A former woman MP shares her experience

BY JENNIFER KUSAPA

FORMER Member of Parliament and the only first MP in Solomon Islands history in 1989, Hilda Kari, is saying that women can do anything men can.

Sharing her experience with Island Sun, she said during her time only money was her challenge to contest the elections back then, but she managed to become an MP then.

She said in 1989 she contested the National Elections for North East Guadalcanal and lost to 59 votes, with Waita Ben Tabusasi winning at that time.

“Back then, those leaders like Waita Ben were wise leaders, and he vacated his seat to become the speaker, and that was when I re-contested the bye-elections, and I won with thousands,” Mrs. Kari recalled.

She served as MP for North East Guadalcanal, and the name changed to East Central Guadalcanal, in the 1994 general election and again in 1997, thus serving until 2001.

She said at that time she also held ministerial portfolios, in which she served as Minister of Forests, Conservation, and the Environment, and she has also been Minister for Women, Youth, and Sports.

Now retired, she is now 75 years old. She’s not just a former Member of Parliament; she’s a beacon of hope and inspiration for women candidates.

She said she came to Honiara in 1971 and joined the government workforce. Back then, it wasn’t common for women to work in government, but she worked hard in various roles, showing that women can do anything they set their minds to.

But Hilda’s path was not without challenges. She faced setbacks, including losing her seat during turbulent times in the Solomon Islands’ history. She continued to fight for what she believed in, showing courage and determination in the face of difficulty.

One of Hilda’s greatest passions is empowering women to participate in politics. She believes that everyone should have a say in how their country is run, regardless of gender. Through her work, she has encouraged women to step forward and take their rightful place in the political arena.

“Being an MP, the important thing is to learn and understand the system of Parliament and the government. I see our former female MPs were not really having the courage to speak up amongst the male MPs, but the floor of the parliament is to raise issues of concern on behalf of the people we serve,” Mrs. Kari said.

She said during her time she was the only woman, but she managed to cope and present her views on behalf of her people.

“During my campaign, I listened and noted the concerns raised by my constituents and presented their views in Parliament, and I made quarterly visits to my constituency. At that time, only $4000 for constituency tours compared to nowadays,” Mrs. Kari said.

Meanwhile, she also said that the rural populace lacks knowledge of how the government systems and parliament operate, and the Solomon Islands Electoral Council needs to do more education and raise awareness in rural areas.

Mrs. Kari said knowledge is power, and everyone should be informed about the electoral process and the role of leadership in governance. With education and awareness, she hopes to create more informed and engaged communities.

Therefore, she believes that by working together and supporting one another, the country can overcome any challenge that comes its way.

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