A rural-based volunteer women's organisation in Solomon Islands is leading the way for women to manage their finances, learn to budget for household items and save for their family's future.

Visiting Australian Governor-General, Ms Quentin Bryce AC CVO launched two financial literacy booklets produced by the West Are'Are Rokotanikeni Association (WARA). The booklets, Women and Money Solomon Islands and Women and Banking Solomon Islands will help women learn how to manage a budget and save money for school fees and household expenses.

The booklets were funded by the Australian High Commission direct aid program, the International Women's Development Agency and volunteer women living in Honiara.
More than 60 members of WARA participated in the launch at Parliament House, who honoured the Governor-General with a traditional 'kastom dance' and welcome.

Ms Bryce said she was inspired by the success of WARA. "It is a great honour to join WARA to launch these booklets. It is very encouraging to see how many Solomon Islands women are devoting their own lives to changing their lives and the lives of others for the better."

Dr Alice Pollard, on behalf of WARA, said the association first began its savings in 2006 and lending scheme in 2004 with around 100 women. There are now more than 600 members, who have saved more than SBD$400,000, out of which more than SBD$66,000 has been withdrawn for school fees, income generation activities and health costs.

"The booklets are a very important resource for the women as it gives them knowledge and skills to manage their money and to budget for their families future. It provides practical information for women to manage their money and to give them financial independence," Dr Pollard said.

"The next steps are to run workshops and distribute the booklets to ensure that the information is widely available, skills are shared and opportunities to improve the quality of life for all women and their families are taken."

"We are grateful that the Governor-General could launch our booklets. For many women, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet someone of such prominence."

"WARA is very grateful to the Australian High Commission, International Women's Development Agency, the Bank of South Pacific and Solomon Airlines who provided financial support for the booklets and to Westpac, ANZ and friends who provided in-kind and voluntary assistance in taking photographs and technical skills. Such kind assistance does not come easy to rural women as Rokotanikeni."

Copies of the booklets are now available from West Are'Are Rokotanikeni Association. Contact Janet or Alice on 20453. WARA is accepting a $5 donation for each booklet.

Source: Press Release, AusAID Communications Unit, Solomon Islands