As followers of Jesus, ADM seeks to see women, from generation to generation, flourishing in Kingdom work. In our Mercy & Justice Ministries we want to see women in contexts of poverty and exclusion flourish in their image-bearing of God.
Across the globe women are over-represented in poverty. In these contexts, their image-bearing of God is diminished and broken. Within Australia’s neighbourhood, this is particularly pronounced for women in the Pacific and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, who experience significant levels of poverty, violence, and economic and social exclusion.
The poverty landscape
In both developed and developing countries we witness the ‘feminisation of poverty’. While accurate figures are hard to come by, it is agreed that women are over-represented in poverty. Women receive significantly lower salaries in paid work even in developed countries. They are often employed in unpaid home duties where household income is not distributed evenly or according to need. Where marriages or families breakdown, women are almost exclusively left to care for any dependents in sole-parent households. Women and girls have poorer access to education. Given reduced social power and freedoms, women are exposed to higher levels of gender-based violence. Women are also poorly represented in political or private sector leadership, which perpetuates the broken image of women in society.
Many in our Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities experience living conditions close to those of the developing world. Statistics of disadvantage are too many to mention, however there are a number of lowlights:
● 1 in 5 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians live below the poverty line, compared to 1 in 8 non-Aboriginal Australians.
● Aboriginal life expectancy is 12 years’ lower than non-Aboriginal.
● Aboriginal children are 8 times more likely to experience substantiated abuse or neglect than non-Aboriginal children.
● Aboriginal women are 45 times more likely to experience domestic violence than their non-Aboriginal counterparts.
Within Australia’s neighbourhood, poverty and gender inequality is particularly pronounced in the Pacific and South East Asia. While populations are relatively small in the Pacific, poverty is deep. Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea are ranked 134, 156 and 158 out of 188 countries according to Human Development Index. Gender inequality is high in the Pacific, with the above countries reporting around 20% inequality in school attendance and income ratios. Almost 70% of women and girls in the Pacific experience rape or other sexual violence in their lifetime – one of the highest rates in the world. This is often at the hands of a partner or family member.
Our opportunity to serve
These challenges for women in our region are especially concerning given the high levels of reported Christian belief in these communities. This presents a particular opportunity for ADM, as a Christian women’s foundation, to be agents of God's hope and healing. Through grace-filled relationships and partnerships we want vulnerable women flourish.
World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap Report 2015
Australians Together - http://www.australianstogether.org.au/stories/detail/the-gap-indigenous-disadvantage-in-australia
accessed 21 September 2016
Gordon Report 2001
Human Development Report 2015
Amnesty International- https://www.amnesty.org.nz/sexual-and-gender-based-violence-pacific accessed 21 September 2016