World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Inspiring women’s leadership in the Pacific Islands

What will it take to inspire women’s leadership in the Pacific Islands?

On gender equality – it is no secret that the Pacific Islands is lagging.

The region is home to some of the world’s highest domestic violence rates. Economic empowerment of women in many countries, particularly in Melanesia, is desperately low. Women lack access to finance, land, jobs and income. In my country, Solomon Islands, there is only one woman in parliament, and there are none in Vanuatu and Federated States of Micronesia – a country which has never yet seen a woman elected.

Of course the reality is always more complicated than a data sheet. I have grown up among inspiring women and have been motivated by very strong Pacific Islanders like Shamima Ali in Fiji and Ethel Sigimanu in Solomon Islands, who have battled so hard to put gender equality on the agenda.

I know in turn that there are many men who, just like me, care immensely about the issue of women’s rights and gender equality: men who recognize the social and economic benefits of educating their sisters and daughters, and encouraging their wives to be active in the workforce or to start businesses themselves.

I also believe that things are changing. In many churches in the Pacific, women are increasingly given leading roles in their congregations and conducting their own services. While still very few, more Pacific women have been elected to positions in parliament in places where this has been notoriously challenging: at the last elections, we counted three in Papua New Guinea and three to the Senate in Palau.

And from my own experience at the World Bank Group, I have been proud to see women taking the lead in some of our projects. In Buni village in Solomon Islands, women told me how they came together under a crowded mango tree to outvote men on an initiative that would boost their earnings, while an overwhelming majority of community leaders reported that this same project, the Rural Development Program, had made women more vocal and active in their communities.

Of course examples like these are not enough. I want to see more women leaders – more women running businesses, university departments, media outlets and political parties and speaking out in the community. I know that Pacific women are just as smart and just as dedicated as their male counterparts; they make critical decisions every day and have a huge wealth of knowledge at their fingertips.

And women’s leadership matters. It matters if we want to get the best people in the top positions in our societies, rather than excluding half of all possible candidates and all that they can offer. Currently almost half of women’s productive potential globally is unutilized. A Goldman Sachs study found that narrowing the gender gap in employment could, by 2020, increase per capita income in emerging markets like Solomon Islands by as much as 14 percent.

For change to happen, societies need to recognize that women’s leadership is pivotal. It’s an issue for governments but also for schools, universities, parents and communities, to encourage girls as well as boys to take on leadership roles. It’s an issue for workplaces and businesses, to offer opportunities for women including on boards and committees. We need data on women’s participation in the economy, and concrete action plans to address the barriers.

Last Saturday, March 8 was International Women’s Day and the theme was ‘Inspiring Change’. That change is starting to unfurl, but as we move on from this weekend's events, it needs our sustained help and support. We at the World Bank Group believe that we all need to be “inspired” – to recognize the work that women are doing and help them achieve their potential in our homes, communities, businesses and society overall. And we need good Pacific Island leaders, both men and women, to achieve the change we seek.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Palestinian Refugees From Syria Face Worsening Situation

Palestinian women at a UNRWA distribution centre in the Jaramana refugee camp, Damascus, Syria. Photo: UNRWA/Carole Alfarah More>>

ALSO:

Greece Risks Prolonged Social Crisis

Greece’s severe financial crisis has bred social unrest and intolerance of the nearly one million irregular migrants living in the country (October 2012). Photo: IRIN/Kristy Siegfried More>>

Madagascar: Warning Of ‘rapid’ Spread Of Plague In Capital

Ny Hantra Andriatsifasoa survived the bubonic plague after being infected in Madagascar in 2011. Photo: IRIN/Tiana Randriaharimalala More>>

New Bird Flu Strain In Europe Threatens Poultry Sector

24 November 2014 – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization ( FAO ) today warned that a new bird flu strain detected in Europe poses a significant threat to the poultry sector, especially in low-resourced countries situated along ... More>>

Mexico: Disappearances Reach Record Number This Year

The National Registry of Missing Persons acknowledges that from 2007 to date, there are 23,605 cases of disappeared persons; 40% have been reported during the current administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto. More>>

Ban To Take Up Fight Against Ebola With All UN Organisations

Street sellers at Waterside market in central Monrovia, where there has seen a huge drop in customers over the past months due to the onset of the Ebola Virus Disease. Photo: UNDP/Carly Learson (20 November 2014) More>>

ALSO:

Darfur: UN-Backed Event Promotes Role Of Women In Peace

Darfur: amid mass rape allegations, UN-backed event promotes role of women in peace processes More>>

Ebola Cases No Longer Rising In Guinea And Liberia

In Conakry, Guinea, a mobilizer teaches children about proper handwashing techniques, which help prevent the spread of diseases, including Ebola. Photo: UNICEF/Timothy La Rose More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news