Dear Editor – The need for wider participation of women in the national politics or any form of national leadership often generates very interesting discussions and comments amongst the general public.
For a very long time women in Solomon Islands have continuously remained on the edge when it comes to leadership especially leadership in the public arena.
When women are demonstrating leadership in their own homes and communities comments or discussions are rarely forth coming.
Women in Leadership comes with a lot of judgment. It is no longer about women and leadership, but about her character and personality, the type of person she is, whether she is educated or not, the number of husbands she has in the past and whether she has left her husband or not, the types of clothes and makeup she puts on and all the rest.
Regardless of the quality things that women who are intended to go into public leadership or political leadership, she will only be measured against the areas that have stated above.
In Solomon Islands, women in leadership especially in politics have been invisible, meaning many people have turned a blind eye. Women in leadership is critical to any leadership that is contemplating change and transformation.
For instance if Solomon Islands has been led by men since its independence in 1978 and there is very little impact or no impact all on the lives of ordinary men and women, then the right question for us to be asking is can women taking leadership make a difference.
The kind of leadership that exists in this country for a long time is status oriented. It is the ‘Big Man thing, leadership. The kind of leadership that this country need to have is about recognising the qualities of both men and women.
In terms of women and leadership, it is not so much about recognising what women can bring to the table in terms of issues affecting women and their families, but more about the difference they make to the situation of women and girls. As result of women missing from engaging in political leadership, they are also missing from contributing to government policies that are affecting the lives of women and young girls directly.
More engagement of women in leadership needs mind changing. Understanding why women must engaged in political and public leadership is the first step to accepting women in leadership. Women in leadership is not all about women taking over, but it is about women partnering with their male counterpart in leadership so that the decisions that are made are reflected as being fair and just. It is not about focusing on women, but building the right culture for women leaders to grow and for women to become role models for the younger women generation.
It is fundamental for this country to take women seriously when it comes to political or other forms of leadership. The concept of women lacking quality leadership is preconceived, but this is exactly what is happening in many of our indigenous traditions. The mentality that only men can climb up the balcony of leadership is very much alive and accepted as a norm.
The way forward for Solomon Islands now is to give more opportunity for women to lead. Solomon Islands needs women who can make a positive difference to the lives of those she governs.
The kind of women we are talking about here are women who have strong principles and values, one that promotes respect for her male and female counterparts. Women who represents her people truly and honestly, one that stands for the truth, one that does not let bad influences gets in her way and one that has a high interest in the national issues of her country and community.
There is need for greater realisation that if we are to take full advantage of the talent available in the community and if community perspectives are to be adequately represented, women need to participate along with men in leadership.
Leadership is an opportunity for both men and women to work together by supporting each other and recognising their potential. Women in leadership is about partnership and sharing of responsibility in discussion and decision making in the country, so that the country can move forward to be a much fairer and an economically sound nation.