This month, as part of the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS)’s IWD celebration, we will showcase our global commitment to women’s empowerment and inclusion in political processes by recognizing the work of CEPPS partners dedicated to advancing women’s political participation. In this partner spotlight series, we highlight some of our local civil society partners around the world who are at the forefront of the fight for gender equality and inclusion.
This spotlight focuses on the work Hon. Rose Tala is doing as a member of the Provincial Assembly for Guadalcanal Province in the Solomon Islands.
My name is Hon. Rose Tala and I am currently the only female Member of the Provincial Assembly (MPA) for Guadalcanal Province, Solomon Islands. I took office in June 2019, as the representative for Tasimboko, Ward 18, situated within North East Guadalcanal Constituency.
When I came on board, I was given the portfolio for Minister of Lands. In May 2020, I took on the responsibility for Ministry of Women, Youth and Sports (MWYS), which gave me the opportunity to see, discuss and implement policies under this portfolio. Guadalcanal is a matrilineal society and my understanding of our culture and how to speak with women and youth made it much easier for me when taking on this position.
The MWYS women’s policy objectives are:
The MWYS also provides an avenue for networking for women and youth from the community level to the provincial government. We have a Women, Youth and Sports desk officer in the provincial government to liaise with the national ministry in carrying out related policies. This is how we interact from the community level to the national level, where policies directly related to women and youth are implemented through the ministry I am responsible for.
In my experience since being an MPA, a woman faces discrimination no matter the academic or professional qualifications she has. Women need to continually justify and prove themselves when contributing to a specific agenda during the GPG’s Executive meetings. Recently in the Solomon Islands, female politicians are slowly becoming more respected and their political participation is becoming recognized as vital to decision making and discussions.
Prior to independence, Guadalcanal province has only had three female MPAs; the first was before the establishment of the Provincial Governments in 1981. The second came into office in 2014, and now I am the third female MPA. In the national government, there have only been two female members of parliament (MPs) for Guadalcanal province since independence in 1978. But for the Solomon Islands overall, there has been an increase in female leadership in politics. Currently there four women MPs and 4 MPAs each in the national and provincial governments.
Women need more time to prove to voters that they are worthy of becoming leaders and to be their voice in politics. It is slowly improving in terms of numbers for women’s political participation and I hope to see more women in the next national and provincial elections.
The provincial government has passed ten new ordinances in our last assembly to strengthen revenue collection, a major advance considering that there were only seven such laws put into place since 1981. This will enable the GPG to improve service delivery for women and youth, in particular, at the community level. Another ten ordinances are in draft currently and will ensure women’s participation in decision making from the community level to the provincial level. Two of these draft ordinances in cover areas such as forestry, logging, and land sales – areas in which women have been marginalized in decision making. This will enable women and youth to be more involved collectively at all levels when it comes to their rights to make decisions on their natural resources.
The current state of emergency in the Solomon Islands limits finance, interactions, and activities to be implemented by my own ministry. But women are more vocal now in social media, mainstream media, and in their communities when it comes to politics. I am privileged that the office and the ward I represent are accessible to the people of Guadalcanal. This makes it easier for me to visit the ward and listen to women’s concerns and implement policies and activities for the Guadalcanal people.