Among Equals is a social enterprise, aimed at empowering Bilum makers in three communities in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Their worlds are complex, often violent and insecure. Through an ongoing relationship with these women my aim is to provide them with sustainable incomes and to help ensure Bilum remains a viable art form for future generations.
AmongEquals works with women weavers in three areas of Papua New Guinea (PNG). These areas are in the highlands of PNG; Goroka and Mt Hagen.
In Goroka the women are street and commercial weavers, and in Mt Hagen the women are domestic and home weavers.
The regional communities are patrilineal, which is a common kinship system. Property, rights, names or titles are passed through the male line. Women have limited rights within this culture.
In these communities 65% of the women are married. There is no divorce permitted in PNG. Often there are 60 women responsible for 134 children under 18 years of age. The living conditions often mean that 17 to 23 people live in one household.
Most families dwell in traditional homes with mud walls and with a corrugated iron roof. There is no electricity or water supply. The women gather water from the river as there is no clean drinking water supply. They cook on an open fire. Up to 83% of the homes are run on a battery system.
The women have no formal education and 30% can't sign their name.
The women are the biggest earners in the household.
This income comes from the sale of Bilum.