Women in Oceania

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A woman from Tahiti, French Polynesia, circa 1906.

Women in Oceania are women who were born in, living in, or are from Oceania. Their evolution, culture and history coincide with the history of Oceania itself. Women from Oceania include women who are from sovereign states in the region, such as women from Australia, East Timor (Timor-Leste), Fiji, Indonesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

Other Oceanian women may come from dependencies and territories such as those of the Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Women from dependent external territories of Australia include women from Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and Norfolk Island. Women from the overseas provincial territory of Chile include women from Easter Island. Women from the overseas territory of France include French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Wallis and Futuna. Women from dependent territories of New Zealand include women from Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau. Women from the overseas external territory of the United Kingdom include women from Pitcairn Islands. Women from dependencies of the United States include women from American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, and Northern Mariana Islands.

Sovereign states[edit]


Main article: Women in Australia

Women in Australia have been described as to be "more independent and self-reliant than those in some other countries". They have rights, status and opportunities that are conferred to Australian men. Women share household chores with men.

East Timor[edit]

Main article: Women in East Timor

Among the traditional practices challenging the status of women in East Timor include not being able to inherit or own property[1] and the cultural notion that women normally belongs to the home.[2] Apart from these customary concepts, East Timorese women were also confronted by the occurrence of domestic violence. Rape cases and sexual slavery were allegedly committed by East Timorese pro-integration militias during the September 1999 crisis in East Timor.[1] One of the organizations that promote empowerment and foster gender equality for the women of East Timor is the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).[2]


Main article: Women in Fiji

Women in Fiji are females who live in or are from the Republic of Fiji. On March 8, 2007, The Fiji Times ONLINE described Fijian women as important role players in the fields of economic and social development in Fijian society. The women of the Islands of Fiji are the "driving force" in the health service as nurses and medical doctors. They are also key players and managers in the areas of tourism and the entertainment industry and as teachers in the field of education. However, according to the same source, the modern-day roles that Fijian women are engaging in has become a cause for the weakening of the Fijian family unit because she no longer able to completely perform her role as the "pillar of strength" in the home, as the traditional maternal figure and care-providers who spends a lot of time with the children in the household, giving them "love and attention", because of her responsibilities at the workplace. Despite of this setback, modern-day Fijian women have attained better education.[3]


Main article: Women in Indonesia

The roles of Indonesian women today are being affected by many factors, including increased modernization, globalization, improved education and advances in technology (in particular communications technology). Many women in Indonesia choose to reside in cities instead of staying in townships to perform agricultural work because of personal, professional, and family-related necessities, and economic requirements. These women are moving away from the traditional dictates of Indonesian culture, wherein women act simply and solely as wives and mothers. At present, the women of Indonesia are also venturing actively into the realm of national development, and working as active members of organizations that focus and act on women's issues and concerns.[4][5]


Main article: Women in Kiribati

Women in Kiribati are women who live in or are from the atoll nation of Kiribati. The role of Kiribati women is described in the publication Kiribati, A Situation Analysis of Children, Women and Youth (2005) as "largely defined by her age and marital status". Prestige is inherent to the married Kiribati woman, but she is considerably under the authority of her husband.[6]

Marshall Islands[edit]

Women in the Marshall Islands are women who live in or are from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, an island country that is politically a presidential republic in free association with the United States. Alternative appellations for these women are Marshallese women, Marshall Islander women, Marshalls women, and women in Rālik-Ratak (literally women facing both sunrise and sunset).[7]

Federated States of Micronesia[edit]

Women in the Federated States of Micronesia are women who live in or are from the Federated States of Micronesia, an independent sovereign island nation composed of four states. Thus, FSM women includes women from the States of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei (formerly Ponape) and Kosrae (previously known as Kusaie).


Main article: Women in Nauru

New Zealand[edit]

Main article: Women in New Zealand

Women in New Zealand are the women who live in or are from the multi-cultural society of New Zealand. The first female settlers in New Zealand were not from Europe. They were from the Māori people.[8] The person credited to be the first white-skinned European woman to settle in New Zealand was Charlotte Badger (she later had a daughter known as Catherine).[9] Today, women in New Zealand, which may also be called Kiwi women, have descended from European, Asian and Pacific Islander stock. The women of New Zealand have the same level of equality with men, and are conferred the same level of respect as well.[8]


Main article: Women in Palau

Women in Palau, known also as Palauan women, Belauan women, Pelew (archaic English) women, or Women of Los Palaos Islands (Spanish influenced name) are women who live in or are from Palau. Historically, there was a strong "gendered division of labor" between women and men of Palau. To women belonged activities like farming and collection of shellfish (men were in charge of house construction and community building). Present-day women - among Palauan men - are participants to wage labor. Although women now occupy jobs as physicians, lawyers and business managers. In relation to the history of national politics of Palau, Sandra Pierantozzi became the Vice President of Palau, and is now serving as Palau's Foreign Minister. There is already the first Palauan woman serving on the Supreme Court of Palau.[10]

Papua New Guinea[edit]


Main article: Women in Samoa

Solomon Islands[edit]

In the Solomon Islands female life expectancy at birth was at 66.7 years as compared to male life expectancy at birth at 64.9 in 2007.[11] 1990–1995 fertility rate was at 5.5 births per woman.[11] The Solomon Islands National Council of Women is a non-governmental women's organisation based in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands.


Main article: Women in Tonga

As female residents of Tonga, women in Tonga had been described in 2000 by the Los Angeles Times as members of Tongan society who traditionally have a "high position in Tongan society" due to the country's partly matriarchal foundation but "can't own land", "subservient" to husbands in terms of "domestic affairs" and "by custom and law, must dress modestly, usually in Mother Hubbard-style dresses hemmed well below the knee". Based on the "superficial dealings" of LA Times Travel Writer, Susan Spano with the women of Tonga in 2000, she found that Tongan women were a "little standoffish", while Patricia Ledyard, former headmistress of a missionary school for girls in Tonga, confirmed that such "aloofness" of Tongan women were due to the nation's "rigid class system" and the country's "efforts to retain its cultural identity". There were presence of Tongan women who are professionals engaged in jobs as travel agents, as vendors selling an "exotic cornucopia of root vegetables and tropical fruit(s)", and as basket weavers.[12]


Main article: Women in Tuvalu
A Tuvaluan dancer at Auckland's Pasifika Festival

Women in Tuvalu continue to maintain a traditional Polynesian culture within a predominantly Christian society. In the traditional community system in Tuvalu, each family has its own task, or salanga, to perform for the community. The skills of a family are passed on from parents to children. Women participate in the traditional music of Tuvalu which consists of a number of dances, including the fatele and the fakanau.[13] The fatele, in its modern form, is performed at weddings, community events and to celebrate leaders and other prominent individuals.

Tuvaluan women have access to secondary education at Motufoua Secondary School on Vaitupu[14] and Fetuvalu High School, a day school operated by the Church of Tuvalu, on Funafuti.[15] There are opportunities of further education and paid employment with non-government organisations (NGOs) and government enterprises, education and health agencies being the primary opportunities for Tuvaluan women.

Life expectancy for Tuvaluan women is 66.9 years as compared to 62.7 years for males (2011 est.).


Main article: Women in Vanuatu

Women in Vanuatu are women who live in or are from Vanuatu. According to UN Women, women in Vanuatu play a significant role in the fields of "civil service and the public sector". But under the 30-year-long democracy of Vanuatu, the women of Vanuatu are still under-represented in the political arena of Vanuatu: at any one time, there had only been two female members out of a total of fifty-two members of the parliament of Vanuatu; there was only 3.8% of women in Vanuatu who held seats in said parliament. They are also under-represented at the local (provincial and municipal) levels of politics. In relation to the labor force, based on data in 2006, Vanuatuan female workers comprised 49.6% of the workforce of Vanuatu.[16]

Dependent territories (Australia)[edit]

Christmas Island[edit]

The Women in Christmas Island or Christmas Island Women are the women living in Australia's Territory of Christmas Island. The female Christmas Islanders are of Malay, Chinese, and Anglo ancestry. In March 2011, International Women's Day was celebrated on Christmas Island for the honor of its female residents. The event was held in order to convey the theme of "what it means to be a woman living on Christmas Island".[17]

Cocos (Keeling) Islands[edit]

The women in Cocos (Keeling) Islands are the female residents of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, a dependency of Australia that can be found in the Indian Ocean. The first known settlers arrived on the islands in 1826.[18]

Norfolk Island[edit]

Dependent territories (Chile)[edit]

Easter Island[edit]

Dependent territories (France)[edit]

French Polynesia[edit]

New Caledonia[edit]

Wallis and Futuna[edit]

Dependent territories (New Zealand)[edit]

Cook Islands[edit]

Main article: Women in Cook Islands

Women in the Cook Islands are women of the Oceanian region who live in or are from the Cook Islands, an island country in the South Pacific Ocean that is in free association with New Zealand.


Main article: Women in Niue

Women in Niue are the female residents of or women who are from Niue. In terms of division of labor, the women of Niue inherits the tasks that belong to the domestic domain, including caring for children and elder members of the family unit, preparation and cooking of meals, sewing and weaving. Niuean women have "some rights" in relation to land tenure and inheritance of real property, but such rights are not "as strong" as those that belong to the men of Niue.[19]


Main article: Women in Tokelau

Dependent territories (UK)[edit]

Pitcairn Islands[edit]

Dependent territories (USA)[edit]

American Samoa[edit]


Main article: Women in Guam

Women in Guam, sometimes referred to as Guamanian women or Chamorro (also spelled as Chamoru) women, are women who live in and are from Guam, an unincorporated territory of the United States. By traditionial Guamanian culture, the women of Guam are the managers of family resources such as land and food. At present, women - together with Guamanian men - participate in jobs that belong to the wage economy category; but there are also women - among men - who work in the agricultural sector.[20]


Main article: Women in Hawaii

Women in Hawaii are women residing and are from the Hawaiian Islands. They are citizens of the United States because Hawaii is one of the 50 U.S. states. Hawaiian women descended from Polynesians who migrated, in two waves, to Hawaii. Together with men and children, the first wave of Polynesian women who became known as women of Hawaii came from the Marquesas Islands, probably about AD 400; the second wave of female Polynesian migrants came from Tahiti to Hawaii in the 9th or 10th century. In general, like Hawaiian men, Hawaiian women were people who have brown skin with straight or wavy black hair. Their fine physique were large, and is similar to the body features of the Māori people living in New Zealand. The language of Hawaii people resembled that of the New Zealand Maori.[21]

Northern Mariana Islands[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Women's Situation, East Timor
  2. ^ a b Crook, Matt. Women Learn the Political Ropes, Rights-East Timor
  3. ^ "Roles women play". The Fiji Times ONLINE. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  4. ^ Ingham, Xylia (2005). "Career Women in Indonesia: Obstacles Faced, and Prospects for Change". Australian Consortium for 'In-Country' Indonesian Studies. Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  5. ^ Ahmad, Abdul Razak (29 December 1998). "Redefining the role of women in Indonesia". New Straits Times. Third World Network. Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "1.12 The roles of women", Kiribati, A Situation Analysis of Children, Women and Youth (PDF). Government of Kiribati, with the assistance of UNICEF. 2005. p. 20. 
  7. ^ Carucci, Laurence Marshall. "Marshall Islands". Advameg, Inc. 
  8. ^ a b New Zealand Customs & Culture
  9. ^ The first woman settler? - go-betweens
  10. ^ Nero, Karen L. "Palau". Retrieved 6 October 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Human Development Report 2009 – Solomon Islands. Hdrstats.undp.org. Retrieved 24 September 2010.
  12. ^ Spano, Susan. "In Tonga, Women Cloak Their Power Under Mother Hubbard Dresses". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  13. ^ Linkels, Ad. The Real Music of Paradise. Rough Guides, Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.). p. 221. ISBN 1-85828-636-0. 
  14. ^ "Motufoua Secondary School". Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  15. ^ "Fetuvalu High School (Funafuti)". Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  16. ^ "Vanuatu". UN Women. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  17. ^ Christmas Island Celebrations - 100 women of Christmas Island for 100 years of International Women's Day, unifem.org
  18. ^ Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 42, No.4, Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science, Inc., April 1986, page 21 (56 pages), ISSN 0096-3402
  19. ^ Barker, Judith C. "Niue". Advameg, Inc. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  20. ^ Hattori, Anne Perez. "Guam". Countries and Their Cultures. Retrieved 6 October 2013. 
  21. ^ Holvikivi, J. "The women of Hawai'i - enjoying hula and surfing Historical records from early 19th century". Retrieved 6 October 2013. 

External links[edit]