DEAR EDITOR, speaking in Honiara in March on the occasion of Women’s Day, Casper Fa’sala, the Acting General Secretary of the National Council of Women, said to his audience (quote)
“Let me remind all of us again that this International Women’s Day is a reminder that gender equality is a basic human right for all women and girls to enjoy their full legal equality of opportunity and have the same life prospects as their male counterparts.”
“Solomon Islands as a State must do everything possible to ensure that the dignity of our women is never trampled upon but translate our statements and good intentions into concrete actions for the betterment of our women who represents almost half of our Solomon Islands’ population.”
I am mindful at the time of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; violence against women was recognised as a violation of their human rights, but several decades on the international community is still coming to terms in tackling the problem of physical violence and effective enforcement by bringing to bear the human rights framework on women’s private experiences.
Violence against women, and clearly evident in the Solomon Islands context, is linked to the historical inequality between men and women.
It has been argued that removing the political, economic and cultural structures which oppress women is the main way to eradicate male violence.
The SINCW gives voice for women to articulate experiences of violence and I would urge the organization to continue to define violence in all forms against women in terms of human rights. By so doing, the level of expectation about what can and should be done makes the state and civil society more accountable; the problem will then be seen as a legitimate public policy.
Thinking in terms of human rights will encourage a buildup of energy through major campaigns by local women’s organizations such as the SINCW and could lead to better systematic policies to criminalize gender violence, and to empower women seeking remedies.