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Papua New Guinea

  • By: Christopher A.J.L. Little
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a country located in Oceania that exhibits extreme cultural diversity, making generalizations about motherhood difficult. On the whole, however, mothers are centrally important to Papua New Guinean social life, though they experience great hardship in a country characterized by significant gender inequality, poverty, and prolific social change.

Approximately 85 percent of Papua New Guineans live in rural areas, and some 70 percent of people live in poverty, relying on subsistence horticulture for survival. Many rural populations are extremely isolated due to the rugged geography of the country, and thus have no access to government services. It is uncommon for individuals, especially in rural areas, to obtain even a high school education, and males tend to be preferentially educated. Female literacy is ...

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