Catholic women's programme in Malaita, Solomon Islands : breaking the culture of silence through empowerment : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Development Studies at Massey University
This thesis describes the initiation, development and progress of a programme to empower Melanesian village women. The women are disadvantaged in many ways, among them being minimal literacy skills and living in a patriarchal society. This thesis found that revealing to the women their great value and skills and so increasing their self-worth and confidence was a crucial initial step of the programme. A participatory approach to the women's empowerment targeted personal inner development of the women rather than being pre-occupied with income generating projects as so many women's programmes are. The programme expanded from teaching about leadership, women's roles and integral human development, to include a health programme and a young women's programme. The programme is assessed in terms of the achievements of its goal of empowering women. It was found to address strategic gender needs that the women themselves had identified during the programme. Women are now more able to challenge men and tradition in order to work towards a more equitable society.