BY MAVIS NISHIMURA PODOKOLO
MALAITA women have called on their members of Parliament to support them access land, water and sanitation.
This call was made during the recent dialogue between 20 Malaita women representatives and the 14 members of Parliament for Malaita province in Honiara.
Speaking on behalf of the women, provincial minister for women, youth, children and sports of the Malaita, Rose Liata, said the basic needs to many rural communities in Malaita province is water and sanitation – ‘but are not often met’.
“Therefore we are calling on the honourable members of Parliament for Malaita based on the women’s empowerment and development policy outcomes to support and strengthen the participation of women in planning and decision making to access to land, water and sanitation for communities, schools and public facilities.
“As well as ensure that clean and safe drinking water is available to all communities and strengthened women association to promote leadership for decision making on water and sanitation management and to ensure that gender based approach is adopted for WATSAN programmes,” she said.
Liata said during the consultation process in the making of the policy, most Malaita women expressed the need to have water in close proximity within their community and reach.
Due to cultural reasons and practices, women often are the primary collectors, transporters and users of water in Malaita.
She said without access to proper sanitation or latrines, many women become prisoners of daylight, using only the night as privacy
Liata said water is usually closely tied with accessibility and availability of land.
Culturally obligations may become a hindrance to women owning land where women can build on or access water from, or even contribute to decision making for water and sanitation development.
In response, the Member of Parliament for Small Malaita Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela said they have made attempts to implement development with regards to infrastructures like market house, road, wharfs and as well as the basic needs like water supplies and sanitation projects but have failed due to land disputes from resource owners and people from the communities.
“Hence we need you women and men of Malaita to work cooperatively with us so that we can actively and peacefully address these issues,” he said.