Monday, 12 November 2007 10:05 AM

Time for Women to Take the Lead

Women can play a greater role in the leadership of the nation if they have the support of the community, RAMSI Special Coordinator, Tim George said this week.

Calling on the women and men of Solomon Islands to embrace a new strategy to promote women into leadership roles, Mr George said while Solomon Islands women demonstrate leadership at all levels of society, they are still poorly represented in government and the public service.

The Honourable Minister for Women, Youth and Children's Affairs officially launched the Women in Government Strategy which was developed by RAMSI's machinery of government program.

He said it aims to help women overcome the barriers to entering government and key decision-making roles in the public service.

"The strategy has been developed in close consultation with the government and other stakeholders to ensure that it supports the current government's gender equality policies", Hon Taneko said.

Solomon Islands is one of only ten countries in the world with no women members of parliament and just six per cent of senior public service positions.

The strategy's objectives over four years are to:
1. Increase percentage of women in the public service
2. Reduce barriers to women's elections
3. Improve the capacity of organisations that can foster women's aspirations into public office.

Mr George gave RAMSI's full support to seeing more women in decision-making roles.

"For women to truly help shape the world we live in and manage the nation's resources, they must be in positions of real leadership and political power," Mr George said.

"It is not enough to say that women play an important role in our community and within our families - that is what we already know and treasure," Mr George said.

"We need to go further. International experience has shown that addressing issues of women's participation in decision making is critical to development."

RAMSI has provided funding of SBD3 million for strategy activities and employed two locally and internationally respected women: Doctors Alice Pollard and Marilyn Waring to coordinate the strategy.

Dr Alice Pollard assured people that the strategy was about action, not just words.

"The strategy will not duplicate, reinvent or compete with what is already happening in the women's movement. It's about partnership in leadership and drawing from the strengths of men and women who are doing good work," Dr Pollard said.

Mr George said while it was hard to challenge and change the way things have always be done in society and the workplace, the strategy needed the women of Solomon Islands to stand up.

"Solomon Islands need women that have the courage to step forward or to support their sisters that do. The development experience of many countries and many communities has proven that this challenge is worth undertaking," Mr George said.

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