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Enabling scope for women leadership
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22 February 2019
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Two participants of the Waka Mere workshop from Bank South Pacific (BSP).


WOMEN are underrepresented in all spheres of leadership in Solomon Islands.

Few companies have women in senior leadership roles and there is only one woman in parliament.

A group of local companies are proactively seeking to change this.

On February 15, 2019, twenty women from nine companies participating in the Waka Mere Commitment to Action initiative, completed a Certificate IV course in business leadership and management, facilitated by WINGS Education PNG.

The course was part of the Waka Mere Commitment to Action, a joint initiative by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry to create positive experiences and progressive opportunities for women in the private sector.

The course began in 2018 by introducing professionalism to these high potential women from companies who had signed up for the initiative, all of whom are members of SICCI.

The course included three intensive weeks of classroom learning, and a series of take-home assignments, run over five months.

“Providing targeted training for women to develop their leadership capabilities is an important step towards increasing the share of women in leadership roles in Solomon Islands businesses,” said Atenasi Ata, CEO of SICCI.

The participating women all found the course immediately relevant as well as important in positioning themselves as leaders in their respective workplaces.

“Building confidence is what I appreciate about this course the most. Going through the theory, and the activities as well as preparing the assignments allowed me to broaden my knowledge yes, but it also allowed me to reaffirm my value. I don’t hold back to make contributions and share ideas in meetings at my workplace” said Florence Tionie, the only female engineer at the Solomon Power station in Lunga.

After completing the course, these women are now equipped with specific skills in professionalism, organizational management, processes and systems, customer and client services, effective communication, writing business emails, networking skills, creativity and innovation.

All of which will make them strong leaders at their workplaces and in their homes and communities.

“This course gave me an understanding of benefits and risks in leadership and how to manage those risks. I work in a male dominated place and this course has improved my networking and communication skills,” said Jaydita Pue, Supervisor, GPPOL.

WINGS facilitators Karen Mitchell and Kinnie Rema said that this is their 8th Cohort of Pacific women going through the course. Women from Tonga, PNG, Fiji and Vanuatu have also graduated from this training.

They said they are extremely proud of the progress the women have made in their professional and personal journeys through this course, and were pleased to see the strong bonds formed among the participants.

This sentiment was echoed by Marielah Patovaki, Immigration Officer at NFD, who said “I learnt more about networks - this course created a space for strong networking. I like the way it connects us to people in similar offices and roles across the country.”

For the women who completed the course, they are eager to put their new skills into practice.

They have all expressed gratitude to their employers for believing in them and investing in their development through this course.

IFC/SICCI Gender Coordinator, Ruth Maetala said these Solomon Islands women are well positioned to make changes and take innovative or different actions that will improve business and productivity in their respective businesses and companies.

“The IFC/SICCI partnership is a good model which ensures advancement of women in business in Solomon Islands.”

Following the success of the first offering, IFC and SICCI are running a second cohort of the leadership training with another 20 women, set to begin in March this year.

Waka Mere Commitment to Action, is an initiative of IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and SICCI with funding support from the Australian and New Zealand Governments.

- SICCI Media

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