Professor Marilyn Waring’s specialty is in what doesn’t count in a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GPD) which for Pacific people, she says, is significant.
Having over 40 years of international experience working throughout the Pacific, Marilyn has contributed a significant amount of research in governance and public policy, political economy, gender analysis and human rights.
Marilyn’s most recent research work is a chapter on feminist political economy. She has chosen to address three particular issues that have a different resonance for Pacific people.
First, Marilyn takes on the concept of gender and how Pacific nations recognise more than the male/ female dichotomy.
Marilyn emphasises that issues for Western European feminist economists should not be treated as issues for the whole world. The political economy of the Pacific is very different from western paradigms.
“Pacific people have their own roles in their own language, which have evolved over hundreds of years, that they are proud to have,” she says.
The second concept explored in the chapter is the issue of work, in particular, the Western economic paradigms that say work has to be in the labour force.
“That leaves out unpaid work. This is what a lot of Pacific women do: caring for homes, families and households. It also leaves out voluntary community work, through the church or helping extended family. The Pacific context is very different from a western paradigm.”
The third idea Marilyn examines is the nature of epistemology.
“How do we know what we know? The space between the experience of the Pacific and the experience of Europe is so separate and different. The difference needs to be acknowledged in publications and journals.”
From her start as the youngest person ever to be elected into parliament (at the age of 23), Marilyn’s contribution to politics, economics and feminism cannot be matched.
Marilyn has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Political Science and International Politics from Victoria University of Wellington and a Doctor of Philosophy in Political Economy (1989) from the University of Waikato.
Marilyn has been at AUT as a Professor of Public Policy since 2006 and says it is an applied university. She enjoys working here as she is interested in public policy in an applied sense, rather than a theoretical sense.
One of Marilyn’s proudest achievements was editing the first ever book on women in the Solomon Islands Being the First, along with Alice Aruhe’eta Pollard.
“We interviewed women who had been permanent secretaries, deputy permanent secretaries, head of the public service commission, or a Minister of Parliament (there has only been one).
“We gave away 3000 copies and for a lot of women it was the first book they had ever owned. It was replayed on the radio, every chapter was reproduced in the newspaper and it has been used in their school curriculum. I am so proud to have been a part of that.”