Addressing barriers faced by Solomon Islands’ women entrepreneurs and business owners will spur business activity and create a more open and productive economy, says a book recently released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Women and Business in the Pacific, a joint publication from ADB’s Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI) and the Government of Australia, examines how women across the Pacific engage in the private sector. For Solomon Islands and six other countries, it analyzes and proposes responses to issues that can stifle women’s economic participation. These include limited access to land, finance, skills training, and markets; shortcomings with dispute resolution and enforcement of rights; and threats to health and personal safety.

“Women’s economic empowerment will not happen automatically or quickly in Pacific island countries,” said ADB Director General for the Pacific Ms. Carmela Locsin. “It will require a sustained, collaborative effort from governments, development agencies, civil society organizations, and the private sector. This book, with its innovative and pragmatic recommendations, will help these institutions formulate effective programs to ensure women in the Pacific can participate fully in their economies.”

“No nation can reach its economic potential without harnessing the energy, skills, ideas, and talent of women,” said First Assistant Secretary in Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Office of the Pacific Ms. Kathy Klugman. “With the diversity of ways it presents to support women’s empowerment and their equal access to economic opportunities, Women and Business in the Pacific will help governments, business, aid organizations, and women in the Pacific themselves to achieve the goal of seeing more women working and leading in the private sector.”

In Solomon Islands, the book finds that women continue to face significant barriers to employment and entrepreneurship. For example, women employed in the private-sector were found to have earned 62% less on average than men, and, in 2018, only 11% of board positions with Solomon Islands’ state-owned enterprises were occupied by women.

“In Solomon Islands’ formal economy, where women are paid significantly less than men, and in the informal economy where most women work, there are significant opportunities to make it easier for women to establish and grow businesses and increase their incomes,” said the book’s lead author and PSDI’s Gender Expert Ms. Vijaya Nagarajan. “This book provides local insights and practical recommendations to support women in the Solomon Islands to overcome these barriers and fulfil their potential as employees and entrepreneurs.”

The book identifies numerous opportunities to empower women business owners, employees, and entrepreneurs in Solomon Islands. These include establishing an entrepreneurial hub to inform and advise businesswomen, increasing maternity leave pay provisions, and improving the mechanisms for reporting and addressing workplace discrimination.

PSDI is a regional technical assistance program undertaken in partnership with the governments of Australia and New Zealand, and ADB. PSDI supports ADB’s 15 Pacific developing member countries to improve the enabling environment for business to support inclusive, private sector-led economic growth.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

Source: ADB

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