Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was impressed with the initiatives of the “Waka Mere Commitment for Action” programme for women empowerment in the country’s business and labour market.
The Prime Minister launched the programme in Honiara last Tuesday in the presence of the Minister of Commerce, Elijah Doromuala and the visiting the Australian Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Hon Keith Pitt (MP) together with stakeholder representatives.
Through the programme, Solomon Islands businesses will implement measures to increase the share of women in leadership positions, to build respectful and supportive workplaces for women and men and to promote opportunities for women in non-traditional jobs.
The programme provides an opportunity for Solomon Islands businesses to join with other companies to make a public commitment to implement measures proven to enhance women’s employment opportunities.
With the situation in the country, Prime Minister Sogavare said empowering women in the Solomon Islands is a challenge for all Solomon Islanders and it is everyone’s business to address it.
Statistics have shown that women are a significant untapped source of talent in Solomon Islands, with only 9 percent of women holding a formal wage paying job – compared to 23 percent of men.
With these uneven statistics, the Democratic Coalition for Change Government has now shifted priority to focus on women and youth empowerment and the Government is committed to improving these numbers.
This shift in policy can be seen in the issuing of Scholarships which is also determined by ensuring that gender is equally represented.
“I have no doubt that the initiatives of Waka Mere will enhance our desires to empower our women by learning from the experiences from local, regional and international best practices. However, it is up to each one of us to harness these challenges and implement ideas to achieve this objective,” Mr Sogavare said.
The Programme ensures that companies come together on a regular basis for learning events and to share lessons and experiences which is a more practical approach to addressing these pressing issues.
The empowerment of women and girls is a key priority for the country and in addition to being good for society, advancing gender equality is an integral part of economic growth.
“I am proud to see the Solomon Islands business community showing international leadership on how to collectively drive the economic empowerment of women whilst at the same time reaping their own business benefits and improving our economy as a whole,” he said.
By promoting opportunities for women to take on leadership roles within business, the companies participating in this initiative are not only improving their own leadership through greater diversity, but also developing women role models to inspire the next generation of Solomon Islands women.