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Hennah Steven

Doctor of Philosophy, (Development Studies)
Study Completed: 2020
College of Humanities & Social Sciences


Thesis Title
Exploring the Role of Women in Indigenous Businesses Based on Customary Land: Case Studies from Papua New Guinea

Customary land ownership in the Pacific has not always been perceived positively. Contributing to this is the notion that limited access to land hinders women’s ability to engage in business. Ms Steven examined women’s involvement in small family businesses led by their husbands and sited on customary land in Papua New Guinea. She uncovered the critical role women play in the economic and social sustainability of indigenous businesses, making visible the role of women in family businesses. Her research highlights how customary land-based businesses can provide women with an opportunity to develop managerial skills, show leadership, gain community respect and status, and exercise agency and a level of independence. Ms Steven’s study makes a valuable contribution to changing the debates around perceived barriers that customary land presents to local economic development and women’s empowerment.

Professor Glenn Banks
Professor Regina Scheyvens
Dr Litea Meo-Sewabu