BY GEORGINA KEKEA
A two-day forum for provincial women leaders on Temporary Special Measures (TSM) has concluded yesterday. Bringing in women from Western, Malaita, Guadalcanal and Honiara, the conclusion of the forum saw the emergence of a communique that will set the platform for the proposed inclusion of TSM in to the Provincial Government Act (PGA) that is in the process of amendments.
Speaking at the closing of the dialogue yesterday, Director Women Desk Division, Pauline Soaki says this achievement came about from the hard work and dedication from different stakeholders namely Women Rights Action Movement (WRAM) and National Council of Women (NCW) with support from the provincial governments, the national government through funding and technical support from the different UN agencies namely UN Women, UNDP through their projects UNPBF and SECSIP.
Mrs Soaki in her closing remarks reiterated the comments made by Permanent Secretary Dr Cedric Alependava on the quote, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’.
“This is just the beginning for us and we are now starting our journey and the road ahead will be tough, but we must not give up,” Soaki says.
Soaki said women from the provinces must be commended for the dedication to ensure this gets underway. Also she said the Western Provincial Government must be commended for taking the leading role in supporting the TSM in the provincial level.
“We are grateful for the Western provincial government who had brought the issue of TSM back to life when it was turned down. Had they been quiet, we wouldn’t see the light of TSM now in the provincial level,” Soaki said.
“If it is implemented, Western Province will become the first province in Solomon Islands to adopt such a measure,” Premier Maepioh has said in December 2017.
Meanwhile during his talk to the women leaders during the opening ceremony, Mr Alependava revealed that women in leadership and political representation is a priority outcome for the government.
“Articulated in the gender equality and Women’s Development Policy, this is aligned to the National Development Strategy 2016 – 2035,” Alependava has said.
Alependava in his speech also cited a clause from the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) where it said ‘adoption by States Parties of temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women shall not be considered discrimination as defined in the present Convention, but shall in no way entail as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate standards’.
He says there are two types of TSM which have been used globally to promote women’s representation: reserved seat quotas and political party or candidate quotas.
“Our dialogue and focus is on the reserve seat quotas.”
With the focus on reserve seats, the women leaders are now strongly calling for Elected Reserved Seats (ERS) for women.
“This may include clustering of wards and provision for review of current ballot structure,” the communique said.
Meanwhile, the women are committed to work together in support of women’s participation and representation in the political arena.
Contained in the recent communique also, Ministry of Women Youth Children and Family Affairs (MWYCA) will act on behalf of the women representation to take this call to the Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS) including other stakeholders to make sure TSM is included.
The forum concluded on a high note with the UN Women representative thanking all the participants for their time and commitment to ensure women’s voices are being heard.