Solomon Islands

Following a period of internal tension, this Pacific nation is re-emerging and re-engaging

Solomon Islands lies to the northeast of Papua New Guinea and is home to 80 languages and over 900 islands, making this small island nation one of great diversity.

Solomon Islands is currently emerging from a period of post-conflict rebuild. Ethnic violence erupted in 1999 and a peace accord was signed in 2003. Solomon Islands has since hosted the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), majority funded by the Australian Government and charged with supporting the Solomon Islands government to rebuild a secure state.

In mid-2017 the RAMSI mission concluded, Solomon Islands now embarks on a new chapter, with the opportunity to overcome significant problems of poverty and gender inequality.

Climate Change already impacts this Melanesian state, a 2016 study found at least five low-lying islands have disappeared since 1947. The majority of Solomon Islanders lead a rural, semi-subsistence lifestyle and people living on remote islands have little interaction with the state or access to healthcare, education and other government services.

 

Life for women in Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands is a patriarchal society and men hold the majority of leadership positions in state, customary and faith-based institutions. In government, just three women have ever been elected to parliament since 1978. Across the country, 62% of women are in paid employment, compared to 88% of men,  and a 2009 study found 64% of ever-partnered women had experienced sexual and/or physical violence from an intimate partner.

Despite these obstacles, Solomon Islands is on the precipice of significant advancements in the lives of women and girls. A combination of increasing political will towards women’s rights and gender sensitive legal and policy frameworks, a growing women’s machinery within government and a strengthening women’s rights movement in civil society, is creating an increasingly enabling environment for women’s rights and gender equality.

Barriers to equality

1 seat

Out of 50 in parliament is currently held by a woman

64%

Ever-partnered women have experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner

75%

Women are in vulnerable employment

Image of woman sitting in a group in Solomon Islands, looking at the camera.

Quick stats

595,000

Total population

156/188

Human Development Index Ranking (HDI)

12.7%

Population living below National Poverty Line

Partnering for change

Promoting women’s leadership

With rates of women’s political representation in Solomon Islands amongst the lowest in the world, holding the government accountable for its commitments to women is critical. That’s why the Women’s Rights Action Movement (WRAM) is working to coordinate the Solomon Islands women’s movement to hold the government accountable. It is also supporting other civil society organisations to bring a “gender lens” to their development work with communities across the Solomon Islands.

Strengthening women’s safety and security

Roughly 60% of Solomon Islander women experience physical or sexual violence. With little knowledge of or access to support services, the majority of women will not report their experiences. IWDA partner Family Support Centre is working to bring free counselling and legal services to all survivors of violence, and introduced mobile counselling services in rural communities to reach more isolated and vulnerable women. The Anglican Church of Melanesia – Christian Care Centre provides safe housing and support for women and girl survivors of all forms of violence – the only medium term safe house in Solomon Islands.

Economic empowerment

Many women in Solomon Islands have never had the opportunity to earn an income or handle money. Our partner West ‘Are’Are Rokotanikeni Association (WARA) is giving thousands of women the chance to do both. Providing a safe space for women to come together and create their own small businesses, WARA is supporting women to gain economic independence and the confidence to play a more active role in household and community decision making.

Systemic change

As part of the Women’s Action for Voice and Empowerment (WAVE), Women’s Rights Action Movement and West Are’Are Rokotanikeni provide a Solomon Island voice to this regional program. WAVE aims to build demand and capability of women to take their place in governance and decision making. It is a truly transformational movement of women across Asia Pacific.

IWDA partners in Solomon Islands

Family Support Centre

Family Support Centre (FSC) is the first and the only secular organisation providing counselling and legal support services to survivors of gender-based violence, and the first to take the lead in organising national campaigns to address violence against women.

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West Are'Are Rokotanikeni Association

West ‘Are’Are Rokotanikeni Association (WARA) is an indigenous women’s savings organisation that is leading the way for women to manage their own finances, learn to budget for household items and save for their family’s futures.

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Women's Rights Action Movement

Women’s Rights Action Movement (WRAM) is a non-government organisation of motivated women and men who believe in the cause for gender equality.

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Where we work