BY MAVIS N PODOKOLO
Guadalcanal women market vendors who are the main producers of Honiara Central Market are no exception when COVID-19 (coronavirus) was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation.
According to Alice Hou, president for Guadalcanal Council of Women (GPCW), women market vendors from Guadalcanal were crippled by COVID-19 and they are still in the process of trying to recover from the impact of the virus.
Mrs Hou said this impact has caused fear, low financial earning to support farmers daily needs and livelihood, farmers escaping the virus back to their villages made market suppliers to decrease.
She said with the above impacts GPCW have stepped in with some their programmes to try and support women farmers to continue engage in economic initiative activities to keep the country’s economy afloat during this uncertain time.
Hou said they have also worked closely with constituency offices within Guadalcanal to assist not only women but men and youths in economic activities like copra, cocoa and kava production.
Permanent Secretary for Minister of Ministry of Women Youth Children and Family Affairs Dr Cendrick Alependava during the 14th Triennial conference for women in Pacific, said in recognition of the amplified economic impact of covid-19 particularly on women, ministry is now revising the National Strategy for the Economic Empowerment of Empowerment and Girls in 2021 which they also looking forward to launching it.
Minister for Ministry of Women Youth Children and Family Affairs Freda Rotutafi Rangirei at the recent commemoration of the International Women’s Day 2021 said this national strategy key objective of the strategy is to target financial literacy and inclusion measures towards the 85 percent of women engaged in vulnerable work, who are outside of the protections of formal employment.
“While the majority of women in the Solomon Islands are in vulnerable employments, I strongly believe that these are the women that has ensured the survival of families during these hard times. The strength of the women of Solomon Islands must be applauded, recognized and rewarded,” said Rangirei.
Marise Payne, Minister for Australia Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Australia when speaking during the opening of the 14th Triennial conference of Pacific women this week said the past year has been a very difficult one for the region and those challenges affecting women in the region is not diminishing.
“The pandemic forced us to confront key global health threat, boarder closes, economic insecurity and chronic supply chain interruption,” said Payne.
She said every single one has been impacted one way or another by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Globally. The industries traditionally employing women, retail, tourism industries and informal markets economy declined and that has distressingly coincided with an increasing both women’s unpaid and very disrobing and increasing gender-based violence.
Payne said the pandemic has compromised both the accessibility and the equality of sexual reproductive health services. Even after we tackle the health threat our social and economic challenges would remain.
She emphasised in some ways the pandemic is providing an opportunity to move ahead on a different course.
“As we know even before the pandemic there were already gender equities between women and men so this moment of inflation and reflection gives us an opportunity to ensure the issues affecting women are addressed and that women played a critical role in decision making and would leading our economic recovery events.
“If we ensure women’s economic insecurity, we ensure there is safety, we promote their health and well-being that not only benefit to women and girls but to their entire communities.
“We will be working with pacific partners to strengthen the region’s economic recovery, its health security and its stability, importantly we are also partnership deliver safe and effective vaccines for our neighbors,” said Payne.