The UN Development Programme and the Australian High Commission in Solomon Islands have gathered an exciting selection of posters and essays including the winners of the 2021 Outstanding Women’s Essay and Poster Competition in an exhibition that will be on display from December 1 to December 4 at the National Art Gallery in Honiara.

In 2022, UNDP partnered with the Ministry of Education, Human Resource and Development (MEHRD) to launch this Essay and Poster Competition. The Competition targeted secondary students, their teachers and students of tertiary institutions in Honiara, aiming to engage the next generation of policy makers, youth and children, as well as their teachers and parents in an avenue that addressed barriers to women’s leadership.

The posters and essays portray participants’ ideas of gender equality, women’s rights, and empowerment. Artworks that were submitted illustrated the many problems revolving around gender equality in Solomon Islands, particularly gender-based discrimination in the workplace, education, and politics.

The launch of the exhibition was preceded by an award ceremony that acknowledged the winners of the contest.

To encourage others to participate next year, the exhibition covers the works of winners and participants. Twelve posters and seven essays show successful cases of women's leadership in various fields but also reveal gender stereotypes and social norms that limit women’s and girls participation in the development of their communities.

Reflecting on the completion and the upcoming exhibition, Honorable Lanelle Olandrea Tanangada, Minister of Education and Human Resources Development, noted that the annual Essay and Poster Competition helps not only to “highlights the benefits, qualities and actions of women leaders” but also “works with students and teachers to build long-term support for women’s leadership.”

Hon Lanelle further noted the significant role played by principals, teachers and other educators as “instrumental to reflect and promote social change.”

“Teachers and principals must continue to support students to maintain their positive views on women’s leadership and respect for all women who have the same rights as men,” Hon. Lanelle concluded.

While reflecting on the significant work of the Outstanding Women initiative, Ms Sally-Anne Vincent, acting Australian High Commissioner, observed that “There are so many impressive Solomon Islands women who are leading the way. It is these women who are the role models for the next generation.”

“Having women leaders ensures that issues that are important to women are heard at the highest levels and considered in government policy, programs and decision making. We know that issues that are important to women are often those important to social and economic development for all people.” Ms Vincent noted.

Echoing the same sentiments, Mr. Michael Burke, UNDP Chief Technical Advisor and Project Manager for the Strengthening the Electoral Cycle in Solomon Islands Project, congratulated the winners and thanked all the participants for their contribution to being “role models in driving social change in their Solomon Islands communities.”

Mr. Burke further emphasized that such competitions serve as an “exercise for teachers and students to promote gender equality and gender inclusive education, with an intersectional approach.”

The Outstanding Women Initiative provides an avenue to reflect on women’s contributions to their local communities and contributes to normalizing women recognition as leaders.

The award ceremony and accompanying exhibition was organized by the Strengthening the Electoral Cycle in Solomon Islands Project (SECSIP). SECSIP is implemented by UNDP Solomon Islands with financial support with the Australian Government.

Source: UNDP