Poverty, hardship and the economic crisis: do they have different impacts on women and men?

This was the topic discussed by members of the French Polynesian Association of UFFO - the Union of French-speaking Women of Oceania - and their partners at three workshops held in Papeete from 21 to 24 August, 2012 with over 100 participants from civil society organisations, the Economic, Social and Cultural Council and members of the parliament of French Polynesia. The workshops were conducted by Brigitte Leduc, Gender Equality Adviser at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

The economic crisis affecting French Polynesia in recent years has raised various challenges. A 2009 study showed that almost 25% of the Islands “sous le vent” population (themselves accounting for more than 75% of the national population) were living below the poverty line. Loss of jobs and the high cost of living are having a real impact on everyone's standard of living and are causing additional difficulties for low-income families.  If lack or irregularity of income and indebtedness are major causes of family hardship, other non-monetary factors are also playing a big part, such as the lack of decent housing, food insecurity, remoteness and isolation constraining access to public services, and other social issues such as alcoholism and domestic violence.


A gender analysis of hardship goes well beyond income analysis. It requires examining men’s and women’s roles in family subsistence strategies, the way resources are distributed or accessible to family members and whether or not people's needs and priorities are being taken into consideration within the household, and addressed by public policy and services.


People's own perception of their situation, their way of coping with financial issues, and their ability to meet their needs are often a much more realistic measure of hardship and can provide relevant information on opportunities and obstacles. In this context, women and men may have very different perceptions, reflecting their respective concerns and priorities.


Such is the purpose of the qualitative survey to be carried out by UFFO. This survey aims to identify gender-specific aspects of the economic crisis. Do women experience it in a different way from men? Do women and men face the same difficulties? Do they have the same priorities? And how do they work together to provide the members of their family with a decent quality of life? The first results should be available in December 2012.

For further information, please contact Brigitte Leduc, Gender Adviser with SPC: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .