Category Archives: Asia

Women’s Business Resource Center Helps Women Entrepreneurs in Papua New Guinea Succeed Against the Odds

Children and women make up the majority of market life in Gerehu, Papua New Guinea. Photo by Ness Kerton for AusAID.

Women in Papua New Guinea face distressing obstacles to achieving leadership roles in business, politics, their communities, and their families. Two-thirds of women there are victims of domestic violence, according to reports. Women and girls are frequently treated like property, and it is not uncommon for them to be bought and sold. Men are twice as likely as women to hold a formal job. It is also very difficult for women to access credit, receive bank loans, and even open a bank account.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and others have identified a potential solution this problem: women’s economic empowerment. Research shows that when women have greater economic opportunities and better access to financial resources, they face less risk of becoming victims of domestic violence. If women are able to engage in commerce and earn their own paychecks, they will no longer be financially dependent on their partners. Boosting women’s economic opportunities and gender equality leads to gross domestic product growth, increased income per capita, and greater competitiveness for countries, according to the World Bank.

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Confronting Corruption in Asia’s New Democracies

Corruption is detrimental to countries’ economies because it leads to reduced productivity, high unemployment, and poverty. In addition to the economic cost, corruption corrodes democracies by weakening citizens’ confidence in their governments. This distrust and disenfranchisement can drive people to join extremist groups. “In conflict-affected areas, especially where Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State are trying to set up shop, economic grievances make it much easier to recruit local nationals into their fight,” commented Jennifer Anderson, CIPE’s senior program officer for South Asia. “Not only is corruption debilitating democracy in Afghanistan, it’s also leading to recruitment. Right now in Afghanistan, the Taliban has either control or influence over 40 percent of the country.”

Anderson spoke in a CIPE panel discussion in July that examined the issue of corruption in Asia, with a focus on Afghanistan and Cambodia. Other panelists included experts from CIPE’s Asia Department; the Hudson Institute; and SILAKA, a Cambodian nonprofit organization.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #77: Thida Khus on Democratization in Cambodia

From left: podcast guest Thida Khus, with hosts Sarah Yun and Ken Jaques

Thida Khus is the founder and executive director of Silaka, a non-profit organization in Cambodia.
Khus and her family migrated to the United States in 1979 to flee the Khmer Rouge regime. From 1993 to1996, she organized 80 Cambodian-Americans to move to Cambodia to counteract the lack of human resources.

Khus states that Cambodia’s government continues to suffer from corruption, lack of good governance and an unreliable justice system. She believes citizen education and government transparency are needed to see a change in the national government.

Despite the problems in the national government, Khus discusses the positive changes in local government. For the first time in local elections, an opposition party won a significant amount of votes. She credits a large population of young people and social media for the election results. She believes Cambodia’s younger generation is positioned to bring about change because younger people there do not fear war like the older generation and social media has made it easier to share information.

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Democracy That Delivers Podcast #58: Eli Webb on the Challenges Women Face in Papua New Guinea

Podcast guest Eli Webb

On this week’s Democracy that Delivers podcast, CIPE Country Coordinator for Papua New Guinea Eli Webb discusses the challenges women face in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the work being done to empower women from all levels of society. Webb talks about efforts being made to bolster women’s rights in the country where she said 98 percent of women have been victims of gender-based violence. She discusses legal reforms and development programs that address the issue. Webb also talks about “good news” stories of positive achievements that are being made.

Creating economic opportunities for women is another key element of development work in the country. During his recent confirmation hearing before Congress, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson noted the importance of women’s empowerment programs in Papua New Guinea. Webb discusses the international community’s focus on PNG and the work that CIPE is doing to help women succeed by supporting the establishment of a women’s chamber of commerce and a women’s business resource center. Webb tells inspiring stories of women being helped by the Center, including illiterate women who are brought to the Center by their husbands to access training opportunities.

Learn more about the Women’s Business Resource Center on the WBRC Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pngwbrc/

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

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Launching a Platform for Peer Learning for Economic Think Tanks in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is currently home to around 8% of the world’s population. Collectively, the countries that comprise Southeast Asia – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – are projected to become the fourth largest economy globally by 2050, with a combined workforce that is already the third largest in the world – after China and India. The region has experienced rapid economic growth over the past decade and exhibits tremendous diversity in terms of ethnicity, culture, religion and income levels. The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 signaled a strong support from members for closer economic integration of these diverse populations.

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Creating Opportunity for Women in Papua New Guinea

This past September was my second time visiting Papua New Guinea (PNG), known as “the land for opportunity.” From my experiences there, this phrase is no exaggeration. PNG is a country full of untapped (natural) resources, talents, and compassionate people who love their country and are devoted to their families. But, despite these advantages, gender inequality is crippling development in PNG.

Driving around town in Port Moresby, you can see street vendors selling all sorts of locally made goods and products. At a recently established Market Expo, you can purchase beautiful “bilum bags” and coffee beans, among other items, from the highland regions that are unique to PNG. But these products have untold stories behind them in that many were handmade by women whose meager income is solely dedicated to supporting her family while her spouse’s income is not shared. When and if the family is taken care of, these women are left with nothing else to spend, undercutting their independence and leaving them vulnerable to their spouses’ abuse.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #34: Murray Hiebert on Aung San Suu Kyi’s Historic Visit to the United States

Podcast guest Murray Hiebert (left), with hosts John Morrell and Julie Johnson

Podcast guest Murray Hiebert (left), with hosts John Morrell and Julie Johnson

In this week’s Democracy That Delivers podcast, Murray Hiebert, Senior Adviser and Deputy Director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), talks about the historic visit to the U.S. last week of Aung San Suu Kyi. Hiebert discusses what the visit means for Myanmar’s future, including the peace process and the investment climate in a country where peace and development is long overdue. Hiebert also talks about what the lifting of sanctions will mean for the inflow of foreign direct investment, and how economic development and the resolution of ethnic grievances through the peace process are linked. Reaction in Myanmar to Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit is also discussed. Hiebert also talks about the tension between the  Muslim-minority Rohingya population and the majority Buddhist population in Myanmar and Aung San Suu Kyi’s commitment to resolve tension between the two groups.

For more information on Murray Hiebert and his work, visit the CSIS website.