The Balance of Power (BOP) initiative seeks to shift the attitudes and norms that prevent women from being perceived as legitimate leaders. BOP recognises that these deeply entrenched norms, attitudes and perceptions around concepts of leadership are often barriers to achieving improved balance and inclusion. Changing these requires sensitive and respectful navigation of each country’s socio-political economy.
Central to the approach of BOP is a focus on working through the values and culture of the specific context, bringing together stakeholders who are intrinsically motivated to work as part of locally-led coalitions for reform. This also involves recognising the critical role of men and norm-influencing agents and powerholders in the community, including leaders of faith-based organisations and of traditional governance structures. BOP ensures that it builds upon existing strengths and emerging “green shoots” in shifting attitudes and practices around the roles of women and men in leadership.
BOP is an investment that is explicitly using adaptive management and politically-informed ways of working to influence change in areas where development programs have habitually met with limited success. Through the depth and breadth of networks across its implementation team, BOP is able to nimbly leverage opportunities as they arise. BOP’s learnings and increasing strategic influence across Vanuatu, Tonga, and Fiji and at the regional level are an invaluable resource for broader Australian Government development cooperation in support of its Pacific partners.
BOP's main activities and goals include: