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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - USA: the Insular Areas Statistical Enhancement Program
Title The economic status of women in the Marshall Islands: is it really getting better
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2002
URL http://pacificweb.org/DOCS/rmi/pdf/Status of women.pdf
Abstract
The economic well-being of women is often used as an indicator of the overall advancement of a society. The better women fare relative to men, the argument goes, the better the overall society is at creating equal opportunities and benefits for all of its people. In the Marshall Islands, as a matrilineal society, women have always played important roles. Traditionally, women are the keepers of the family and serve as the all-important conduits through which land rights were passed down from one generation to the next. For hundreds of years, women have learned, practiced and taught many important and specialized skills, like traditional medicine and weaving, which have shaped our culture and helped our people live and thrive in the atoll environment. In more recent times, we’ve seen a surge in the formation of Marshallese women’s groups and more women are taking up key government positions. Women increasingly influence politics and development. But are these recent events indicative of an underlying improvement in the economic status of women? Are women in the RMI really improving their stations in life, relative to men? More specifically, are they becoming more educated, taking up more jobs and earning better wages?

These are some of key questions we must ask in order to truly assess where women stand in the RMI today -- questions that can be objectively answered by looking at statistics and studying historical trends. Censuses and surveys carried out in the RMI for the past 35 years allow us to do just this. These data gathering exercises, carried out first by the Trust Territory Government (before 1986) and now by the Office of Planning and Statistics, provide us with the information we need to answer such questions.

The specific variables we will focus on in this analysis are: (1) Educational attainment of females (versus males); (2) Employment rates of females (versus males); and (3) Mean wages of females (versus males).

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