BY MAVIS NISHIMURA PODOKOLO
GENDER inequality has been identified as the underlying reason for violence against women and family violence, says Minister for Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, Freda Tuki Soriacomua.
She revealed this in her remarks at the Pacific Women Parliamentary Partnership Forum on Tuesday at Heritage Park Hotel in Honiara.
Speaking on the topic family violence she said unequal power relations between women and men can lead to violence and abuse in relationships and marriage where women lack the power to make decisions for the benefit of wellbeing and happy family life.
She said inequalities exist with regards to employment as well as property and heritage rights that render women economically dependent.
“Women’s access to employment and economic empowerment remains a key factor to ensure that women live productive lives.
“Closely related to this is the need to provide women with better education, adequate information on reproductive and sexual health and also the infrastructures to help women and men to balance their work and private life,” said Hon Tuki.
She furthers that strengthening women’s leadership and their participation in decision making processes is vital.
She then posed a challenge on what each of us can do in our position to ease the burdens of women suffering from violence and raising our voices in parliament to bring to the forefront matters and the plight to make the violence stop.
“We love our husbands and want the violence to stop. Violence against women does not happen only to rural illiterate women but also happens to all women with high education qualification, business women, and women in senior management level, a nurse, a teacher and even a gender advocate.
“So as Minister responsible for women, my responsibility is simple. I sit in cabinet with other 23 cabinet Ministers, and I befriended them so I know them well and build the trust among us,” said Hon Tuki.
She added the strategy is not overriding egos, but to maintain a good relationship to press her agenda for addressing women’s issue.
“Hence, the Solomon Islands Government response is targeted, calling on holistic stronger coordinated approach to address gender inequality and eliminating violence against women and family violence
“So far we have been commended for strong coordination on the drafting of the Family Protection Act 2014 between government ministries, development partners and Civil Society Organisations including Faith Based Organisations.”
Moreover, supporting good practice regarding referral and multi-sectoral coordination with SAFNET and developing new national health strategy that mainstream Eliminating Violence against Women and Girls (EVAWG) into the health sector has also been commended for them to undertake.
“Also our work with Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in raising awareness on EVAWG, the partnership with donors for increasing investment in EVAWG and new community policing and conflict resolution programmes focused at the community level.
“The government Gender Equality and Women Development policy and the Eliminating Violence against Women and Girls policy are testament to the urgency of government response and action. Understanding and acknowledging fundamental human rights that women and girls are entitled to zero tolerance of violence.”