“Go with your interests and your passions”
“Women in Solomon Islands are determined and focused on improving the lives of their immediate family, they get on with it, they are hardworking, they are all about bettering their family’s lives.”
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), Ms Atenasi Ata, uttered these words as women in the country join the rest of the world in celebrating the 2019 International Women’s Day with the theme ‘Balance for Better’ Friday March 8.
Ms Ata believes that women in the Solomon Islands can be successful in whatever they do and in their leadership aspirations if they focus on their interests and passion.
For Ms Ata, her time spent with the National Parliament Office straight after University paved the way to where she is today as CEO of the Chamber, where she wants to be an agent for development and change that impacts people’s lives.
“It was in the graduate training program and I saw how much impact could be gained for a country’s democracy through systems strengthening of the legislature just by prioritizing the right things.
“This set me on the path to working to where I am today,” Ms Ata told a recent interview with the World Bank.
She worked with the National Parliament during the period of civil conflict in Solomon Islands from 1998-2003 helping to rebuild government systems or trying to develop them – this was a UNDP project with Australian Government funding through the Parliamentary Strengthening Program.
For women wanting to take on a similar path, Ms Ata’s advice is “Go with your interests and passions”.
“For people with a development background transferring to the private sector, like I have with the Chamber, you may be hesitant and wonder if it is the right path.
“The important thing is to focus on the ‘why’ of what you are doing,” she said.
Ms Ata’s goal is to see people in her country informed, engaged and invested in the future of the nation’s development with dignity and a high quality of life.
“With the private sector, and especially working with an organization that represents industries, you can be an agent for change that directly impacts people’s lives.
“The important thing is to know the ‘why’ and you will be fine. That is my advice.”
In terms of getting more female representatives in Parliament, Ms Ata believes as a country we need to work hard at increasing visibility of women.
“Seeing more women and girls as administrators in schools, as community leaders, and just going beyond the roles normally associated with us is important.
“We are not just the sandwich makers during important community meetings, or the default scribe in those break-out discussion groups. We can be that yes, but we can be more.,” she said.
Ms Ata has been in the role of SICCI CEO for over five months now.
Before joining the Chamber, she was studying for her Master in Law and Development from Melbourne Law School.
Her professional experience started with National Parliament as a Committee Secretary with the Public Accounts Committee and the Bills Legislative Committee. After that she worked for seven years with the Australian Government first within the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) and then within the bilateral aid program.
She also worked with UN Women for three years before starting her master’s course.
– SICCI Media