Poverty rate: 25.1%
The Solomon Islands is one of the poorest countries in the Pacific, ranked 151 of 189 countries on the Human Development Index. Located in an area of high volcanic activity, the Solomon Islands is vulnerable to natural disasters, including volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tropical cyclones, and tsunamis.
Solomon Islanders face many barriers to development, including poor infrastructure, low levels of sanitation, and lack of education and employment opportunities. Rural areas, such as Guadalcanal and Makira, account for over 80 per cent of those living in poverty, with many communities struggling to connect with their government representatives and service providers to meet their basic living needs.
Gender inequality is an enormous barrier to development in the Solomon Islands. According to UNFPA, women are extremely vulnerable to violence, with 64 per cent of women reporting physical or sexual abuse by a partner. Alarmingly, 73 per cent of both men and women believe this violence is acceptable.
Empowering women to lead the development agenda
Women from Ghairavu Province in the Solomon Islands recently presented their Village Action Plans at local forums as part of the Bridging the Gap (BTG) project.
Traditionally, women in the Solomon Islands are excluded from traditional village governance structures, with men acting as leaders at both the household and community level.
BTG empowers communities, especially women, to develop skills and connections so they can advocate for their own development needs. It also educates men about gender equality and finds culturally appropriate ways for women to contribute to the development agenda.
The Ghairavu women identified health care, water supply, and sanitation as among their top priorities at the forum, which was attended by local leaders, government representatives, service providers, and other NGOs.
Women have also formed savings groups and started small businesses as part of the BTG project, increasing their incomes and self-sufficiency. Business models include raising chickens, selling petrol, and producing vegetables.
Meanwhile, 12 women from across 19 villages in East Makira attended a training session on mediation, networking and advocacy. With these skills, women are better equipped to lobby village authorities and governments for projects that support their development aspirations.
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