INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day is next week, on 8 March.
It is a time when the world joins together to mark women’s many accomplishments, but also to consider what more can be done to achieve gender equality.
This will be my second International Women’s Day in Honiara.
I will be joining groups from across Solomon Islands Government, community and the private sector to mark the day.
The Australian High Commission will have a contingent of staff and families joining the parade through Honiara on 8 March.
I also will join the Solomon Islands Professional Women’s Network as they launch a new directory to profile business women in Solomon Islands.
Last year for International Women’s Day, I announced that Australia would support the provision of formal leadership and management training for Solomon Islands women working for government and civil society.
This year, 45 women will graduate next week with a Certificate IV in Leadership and Management, delivered through the Australia-Pacific Technical College.
My staff and I are pleased to be able to join these women for their graduation ceremonies in Auki, Gizo and Honiara.
Globally, it has been a notable year for women’s rights, and identifying the barriers and discrimination that women face.
The #metoo campaign has highlighted the extent to which women still face sexual harassment and assault as part of their work and daily lives around the world.
Many women have come forward and spoken about their experiences.
We need to make sure that all women have the opportunity to have this voice, and that collectively we work to end this unacceptable treatment of women.
I urge you to consider the women in your lives, and what you can do to support them and to stand up against sexual harassment and assault.
Australia is proud to take up our seat on the UN Human Rights Council this year, an institution that is vital to the protection and promotion of global human rights.
A key priority for our membership is continuing to defend the rights of women and girls.
Our experience is that building fundamental human rights and freedoms into the fabric of society makes us safer, more prosperous and more secure.
Looking forward, the next year in Solomon Islands will be an important year in measuring how far women have come in their ability to participate in leadership and decision-making.
The election in 2019, as the first post-RAMSI election, is an important one for the country.
It is also an important one for women.
The warning to us is the experience in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea, where no women have been elected to parliament.
The hope is that the strong women leaders across the country will come forward to stand as candidates in the election and be supported by the people of Solomon Islands.
I hope you all take the opportunity to mark International Women’s Day next week – to consider the women you know who are leading change and pressing for progress in their communities, in their workplaces and across the country, and how you can join and support them in these efforts.
– From the High Commissioner’s Desk