Western Province women leaders highlighted their priorities in the dialogue with MPAs in Gizo, Solomon Islands on 25 September 2018. (Photo: UNDP/Merinda Valley)

Gizo, Solomon Islands –
Women representing wards across Western Province highlighted key provincial women’s priorities and made recommendations on how to address them during a dialogue with Members of the Provincial Assembly (MPAs) today.

The dialogue between the 16 women leaders and 26 MPAs centred on priority outcome areas of the Western Province Women’s Empowerment and Transformation Policy for Development.

“In all my years of working with women and the community, this was the first time for us women of Western Province to have a dialogue with the full assembly,” President of the Ward Council of Women for Ward 18, Sisarina Rato, said.

“They heard our comments directly from us.”

The dialogue supported the implementation of the provincial women’s policy, which was launched in July. Through its eight outcome areas, the policy aims to guide the Western Provincial Government in efforts to include women as equal partners in development.

Ms. Rato addressed the MPAs on the fourth policy outcome, which covers economic empowerment. She recommended improving existing market facilities and establishing markets in rural wards to provide women with platforms to sell their produce and goods.

The dialogue, held in connection with the induction for MPAs, was facilitated by UN Women in partnership with the Western Provincial Government and the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs (MWYCFA) through the UN Peacebuilding Fund (UNPBF) project.

In opening the dialogue, Western Province Women’s Desk Officer Lisi Wong highlighted the importance of the policy and its outcome areas.

Women’s empowerment is crucial to development, and this policy recognizes that. It provides a framework to help women engage in economic activities and all social and political spheres in the province,” Ms. Wong said.

The policy interventions women leaders suggested to their provincial representatives during the dialogue were based on personal experience and common challenges affecting women in their wards.

The interventions called for adequate public sanitation facilities for the province’s growing population and improved access to soft loans and start-up capital for women, among other recommendations.

The MPAs were given time to respond to the interventions and offer suggestions for resourcing each priority area.

Tikila Macfarlane highlights access to sanitation at the dialogue with Western Province leaders in Gizo, Solomon Islands on 25 September 2018. (Photo: UNDP/Merinda Valley)
Salome Topo presents a policy intervention at the dialogue with Western Province leaders in Gizo, Solomon Islands on 25 September 2018. (Photo: UNDP/Merinda Valley)
Provincial assembly member for Ward 17 Honourable Nixon Tula Buka responds to recommendations at the dialogue with women leaders in Gizo, Solomon Islands on 25 September 2018. (Photo: UNDP/Merinda Valley)

In her statement during the dialogue, Western Province Minister of Women, Youth and Sports Honourable Oelyn Moala said acting on the women’s policy is the critical next step for the provincial government.

“The dialogue today provided us with the opportunity to make sure we implement the policy by having women of the Western Province speak to us directly of interventions from the policy for our consideration and commitment,” she said.

UN Women’s UNPBF Project Coordinator, Audrey Manu, said support from the provincial government is key to addressing issues and practices that marginalize women throughout Western Province.

The provincial women’s caucus is one body that can help women representatives coordinate with MPAs to continue implementing the women’s policy, she added.

“Through dialogue with women and a strong commitment to addressing issues they face, we will be able to realize the outcomes of the provincial women’s policy,” Ms. Manu said.

“Engaging and empowering women moves Western Province closer to inclusive, sustainable development, and that benefits everyone.”

The Western Province women’s dialogue with MPAs was made possible through the UNPBF project. The project aims to support peaceful and inclusive transition in Solomon Islands, jointly implemented by UNDP and UN Women in close collaboration with the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace and the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs.

Contact information:

Merinda Valley, Communications Specialist; email: merinda.valley@undp.org; tel: (677) 27446 ext. 5527

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