THE Minister of Women Youth Children and Family Affairs Honourable Freda Rotutafi Rangirei acknowledges all stakeholders, donors and development partners including the Australian and New Zealand governments, United Nation Development Programme, UN Women, United Nation Population Fund, European Union and the Pacific Community for the continuous support towards advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Solomon Islands.
Rangirei in her International Women’s Day keynote address on March 8 acknowledged all partners including the non-traditional partners whom the Ministry has increasingly had the pleasure to be working with more recently.
“The cross-cutting nature of gender and women’s issues will continue to call on our collaboration and cooperation and also forging new relationships and networks where it matters.
“Each year the IWD celebrations have grown from strength to strength, evident in the large turnout this year. “I thank and commend everyone including church and community groups, the private sector, non-government organisations, state owned enterprises, and government agencies for a wonderful, lively and colorful parade, a parade demonstrated with the true spirit of the IWD celebrations,” she said.
International Women’s Day celebrated annually on March 8 marks a call to accelerate gender equality, as well as celebrating the achievements of women across every part of our society.
Minister Rangirei also acknowledged other events that took place simultaneously across the country throughout the week by different sectors and organisations, for example SINIS also celebrated IWD with all its sportswomen and men.
She said this year’s theme ‘DigiAll: Celebrating, Learning, Empowering and Protecting Women of Solomon Islands through Technology – Achieving gender equality while innovating’ celebrates women and girls who are leading the way and participating in roles which are traditionally male – dominant such as the Information and Technology (IT) space in Solomon Islands.
“These women most times are not appreciated for the unique and special positions that they are in, they are advancing gender equality in this space, therefore, let this IWD be about celebrating you, and all women.
“It is about providing increased attention and opportunities for women and girls in this space to be more visible and therefore also become role models for other women and girls seeking to take the same path into similar industries.
“The use of technology can be a powerful tool to promote women and girls in all areas of life but especially in areas where it is historically male-dominant,” she added.
Minister Rangirei stressed that this year’s theme is also about promoting women’s learning through technology and this is probably where the gap is the widest for most of our women and girls in the Solomons.
“How can we begin to talk about technology or digital knowledge to a woman or a girl in the rural and remote areas of Solomon Islands when they don’t have access to these digital apparatus, never owned one in their life, don’t have electricity to power these apparatus, no connectivity to internet or Wi-fi including in most schools, these are but a few of the challenges and the realities of most women and girls of Solomon Islands in the rural and remote areas.
“The opportunity and importance of inter-generational learning with the use of modern technology must also be encouraged,” she said.
“Therefore, this year’s theme must challenge all of us, the government, the private sector, our donors and development partners that if we do not address the ‘real’ access problems on the ground for women and girls and especially those in the rural and remote areas, we run the risk of further widening the gap while everyone else or the whole world is moving ahead in this digital age, while we are left behind.
Specific and special attentions, actions and resources must be given to the digital gap for women and girls where the gap is the widest” she added. The Minister invites other women groups and organisations to join future IWD celebrations in Honiara and the provinces.
The Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs through its Women Development Division is committed to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Solomon Islands through the implementation of the National Gender Equality and Women’s Development Policy (GEWD) with the support of its partners including its other gender frameworks.