WOMEN representing the 14 constituencies in Malaita last Wednesday met with eight of the MPs from the province.
This was during a dialogue UN Women facilitated to allow the women leaders in Malaita to meet and express their views to the MPs.
The dialogue aims to highlight the issues and concerns of women in Malaita to ensure influence, information and resources are targeted at women’s empowerment and development initiatives
During the meeting, which Prime Minister Rick Hou attended, the women shared their recommendations on key provincial priorities that affect development and peace.
They drew on experiences in their communities to suggest policy interventions.
They also addressed the outcome areas, which include improved women’s access to land, water and sanitation; improved economic status of women; and building peaceful communities and acknowledging women’s role in peacebuilding and the preservation of cultural identity.
One of the women participants is Janet Ramo, who is currently the President of the Auki Market Vendors Association.
“I see this national dialogue as a step forward for a prosperous Malaita,” Mrs Ramo uttered at the end of the dialogue.
“It has brought us face-to-face with our MPs to urge them to hear the concerns of women from the grassroots.
“It is a positive and direct approach for them to seriously consider the needs of women in the rural areas.”
Malaita currently does not have a woman representative in parliament.
So the dialogue is a significant event, and perhaps the first to have been organised.
It’s good to note that the women have used the occasion to share their views on issues they felt the MPs should attend to and address.
More often than not, women’s views are simply ismissed or neglected when it comes to developing our provinces and nation.
So it’s great to know eight of the 14 MPs in Malaita have spared their time to attend the dialogue and listen to the women.
The question now is what’s next?
What are the MPs going to do about the useful suggestions and recommendations that the women shared?
Are they going to act on them or just forget about?
Perhaps our national leaders need to be reminded of the words of Rose Liata, Malaita’s minister for Women, Youth and Sport.
In her presentation to the dialogue, Mrs Liata said:
“Investing in women’s empowerment is vital to improving the wellbeing of families and communities as well as achieving gender equality.
“This means that strategies must recognize the need for women and men to work together to address attitudinal and institutional barriers to women’s empowerment and development.”
Wise counsel that leaders need to take note of!