Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Julie Bishop joined women in Honiara in marking the first ever networking association for women of Solomon Islands on Tuesday.
Pioneering members of the Solomon Islands Professional Women’s Network (SIPNET) –a platform for women to network, establish relationship, support each other and work towards common goals – were honoured by the presence of Hon Bishop and her delegation who joined local women in celebrating the inaugural ceremony.
The network was officially launched by Vice Chair of the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), Ms Katalaini Ziru, a successful lawyer and business entrepreneur herself.
Ms Ziru highlighted the challenges women in the Solomon Islands faced and that the network provides a space for like-minded individuals to collaborate and pursue common interest for women.
“I believe this network is an important forum for us. I can see this network become a place of consultation – where women share their stories and look to each other for mentoring, for guidance in how to further themselves in their professions,” said Ms Ziru who inspired the audience with her success story.
“But also a network that will promote our professional and personal development; where we can build our confidence, skills and connections as we climb the ladder even further; where we can gain new ideas and tools for tackling opportunities and challenges in the workplace.”
The network the first of its kind in the Solomon Islands was made possible by the joint efforts of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SICCI) with support from the Australian Government.
Hon Bishop met with over 50 women from various working sectors at the Coral Sea Casino & Resort, and used the opportunity to network with the participants.
“One of our main priorities in the aid program is gender equality and gender empowerment” said Hon Bishop when addressing the event.
“First we encourage women to take leadership roles in their families, in their communities, in civil societies, in government, in business and industry.
“This network is precisely the kind of initiative that we look to support in our aid program.”
She said she wants to see more women take on leadership roles in the Solomon Islands, but also acknowledged the cultural and social barriers.
“The Chamber is pleased to be a part of this important development for our professional women,” said SICCI CEO Dennis Meone.
“[Tuesday]’s launch marks a milestone achievement for women in the Solomon Islands and SICCI will continue its commitment to drive this initiative forward in coordination with the IFC and support from the Australian Government.
“We hope and encourage more women to join this network.”
The network will work with the private sector to promote the business case for investing in gender equality and to develop practical tools to improve recruitment, retention, and promotion of women employees.