Ms. Afu Billy, President of SOI National Council of Women and workshop coordinator, emphasized the broader significance of this event: “This week is a testament to women’s vital role in community and national development. We are bolstering their confidence, propelling their leadership to extend its impact beyond their local communities.”

Enthusiasm fills the room as ideas, plans and projects are dreamed up, aiming to improve their exposure at ward, provincial and the national overall. Rumors circulate among participants, hinting at some already considering a run for office.

The Pacific region harbors the world’s lowest representation of women in elected bodies, and the Solomon Islands are no exception. Out of the 50 Parliamentary seats, only four are held by women.

This represents the highest number of women ever elected – only six women MPs have been elected since independence. Undeniably, challenges persist, but positive transformation is underway. The SECSIP project contributes by channeling effective support to advance women’s political representation.

The Women Candidate Program, of which this workshop is a vital component, strives to redefine the political narrative and narrow the gender gap in leadership roles. For elections to be credible and legitimate they must reflect the diversity of society.

Historically, women, youth and persons with disabilities (PWD) faced formidable barriers to participate in the electoral process.

Many of these obstacles stem from socio-cultural elements, with a strong patriarchal system and clan and familial identities playing a fundamental role in shaping people’s political allegiances and electoral preferences.

The Outstanding Women of Solomon Islands, an institution launched in 2019 by SECSIP, is playing its part by enhancing the visibility of women leaders at national, regional and local level.

Eleven “Outstanding Women” were elected at provincial level between representatives of the Provincial Council of Women.

They are all outstanding women and one of them, Florence Vasaro is leading the way of political representation since she got elected as Honorable Member of the Provincial Government of Choiseul Province.

She considers her new role “challenging because I am the first woman ever acting as such but I see myself filling up a considerable gap bringing in the interests of women and children in the decision- making of my community and also my perspective, the way I see things is different from men. While men tend to look at bigger pictures, I concentrate more on the details”.

With the 2030 Agenda as a guiding thread, UNDP works to advance women’s participation in civic and political life, their economic empowerment and their role as builders of peace and resilience.

Advancing women’s leadership and encouraging them to take leadership roles is an integral part of SDG 5 with target 5.5 aiming to ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunity for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life.

Source: UNDP