Fifty (50) enthusiastic women across the eight Provinces of the Solomon Islands mostly met as strangers but now leave the Capital more enthused and empowered to participate as candidates in any general election following the fourth Practice Parliament for Women.
The exercise was primarily targeted at women who were considering standing for the National Elections or local elections, women community leaders who wished to develop their leadership, advocacy and policy skills as well as women who have committed to supporting gender equality.
“My participation this week has been quite significant and a lifetime achievement,” said Leader of the Independent MPs for the 2018 Practice Parliament for Women, Senoveva Mauli.
“The discussions during the training, and the level of substance brought out during the Parliamentary debate has been enriching. I am now seriously considering standing for the 2019 national elections after my experience this week.”
The Head of Vois Blo Mere Solomon, Josephine Teakeni, a partner for the Practice Parliament this week was impressed with the caliber of the participants.
“The 50 women participants were so committed throughout the week, and I am just overwhelmed with their preparation and performance at the Practice Parliament session today. I feel that women with the calibre showcased at the Practice Parliament today can and will get voted into Parliament,” said Teakeni.
The five-day event was carried out in two phases with the training and awareness raising carried out in the first four days, and the final day where participants use their newly acquired skills as they play the role of national members of their Parliament.
The Speaker of the National Parliament of the Solomon Islands, Mr. Honourable Ajilon Nasiu, acknowledged the enthusiasm of the participants and highlighted the importance of gender equality.
“Your participation further cements the commitment of the current government ensuring both Parliament and oversight institutions of this country recognize the importance of gender equality in all sectors of the country,” said Mr. Honourable Nasiu.
“I want to specifically thank the Solomon Islands Government for support towards this workshop. The current SIDCCG Government is a staunch supporter of gender to address problems & challenges relating to gender & human rights in this country and the pacific region.”
Adding her sentiments, the UNDP Solomon Islands Country Manager, Azusa Kubota, echoed the need for more women to participate in the democratic process and highlighted the innate ability of women to think more about the collective as a mark of quality leadership.
“In 15 of the Pacific countries where the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) works, there are only 42 women MPs out of 559 MPs altogether. This represents 7.5% representation. When women represent 50% of the society, this does not sound right,” she said.
“Women are often care takers in the family and communities. Women always put others interests before theirs. Women always think about collective good rather than individual gain.”
She added, “women therefore naturally have the quality to serve the people and represent the people in the Parliament.”
In selecting the participants, special efforts were made to target women leaders from outside of Honiara municipality/province, as well as targeting special groups.
The Practice Parliament for Women in the Solomon Islands was made possible through the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji funding through two Pacific regional projects under the Effective Governance programme, namely the Strengthening Legislatures in the Pacific Island Countries Project (SLIP) Project funded by the Government of Japan, and the Pacific Parliamentary Effectiveness Initiative (PPEI), funded by the Government of New Zealand.
National partners for the event were the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, the Ministry of Women Youth Children and Family Affairs, the National Council of Women, Vois Blo Mere, Women’s Rights Action Movement, UNWomen and the Young Women’s Parliamentary Group.