Sport as a vehicle for development in Vanuatu : a review of the literature and analysis of the Women's Island Cricket Project : a research project presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of International Development, Development Studies, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Approaches to development delivery have changed significantly post World War II. Current development delivery practices are often referred to as the 4th paradigm of aid delivery. A focus on the concept of empowerment through the delivery of aid has become very popular, especially in relation to women’s development (Cornwall & Brock, 2005, Batliwala, 2007). The 3rd Millennium Development Goal with an aim to empower women is a good example of the increased international focus on and support for, the development of women around the world. This popularity has also surfaced within the new and emerging Sport-for-Development paradigm. The marrying of Sport for Development and empowerment seem to be synonymous in a number of aid projects. However due to the fact that empowerment is a multi-faceted and contested term, there are issues concerning implementation and effectiveness of Sports for Development projects. Monitoring and evaluating Sport for Development projects continues to be an issue many writers lament about. As many have empowerment as an end goal, this is something that causes disquiet in the development field.
With the above-mentioned in mind, this research project aimed to investigate, via a desk-based study and field observations, in what ways the Women’s Island Cricket Project in Vanuatu has contributed to women’s empowerment and identify what some of the consequences of this empowerment of participants were at the personal, family and community level. Using Kabeer’s (1999, 2005) notion that empowerment is about the ability to make choices to improve one’s life, and transform one’s life, I consider whether the women involved in the cricket project had acquired agency – the ability to transform – and whether the women have changed the way they feel about themselves and have been able to improve their own self-efficacy.
My research identified that Island cricket has considerable ‘buy-in’ by the participants of the Women’s Island Cricket Project and their families. I conclude that this project has been successful, resulting in empowerment-type behavioural change for participants. Whilst paternalistic attitudes towards women exist in Vanuatu, on Ifira Island, the project has challenged and transformed some of these historical attitudes. Development Alternatives for Women of a New Era’s idea that women’s solidarity adds to empowerment (Sen & Grown, 1988) was observed by me when attending the Women’s Island Cricket Committee meeting. Whilst Vanuatu women who play cricket are the focus of this aid project, the reality is that despite sport for women not being equal with empowerment opportunities available to male sports people, well-planned and well-organised Sport for Development projects that involve local women in the planning, implementation and evaluation, are meritorious and provide considerable scope to transform participant’s lives.