The FINANCIAL — IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, announced the launch this week of the Solomon Islands Professional Women’s Network—the first association of its kind in the Solomon Islands to drive economic growth and reduce poverty by promoting equal opportunities for women.
The network is a component of a new initiative by IFC and the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), and is funded by the Australian Government. The network will work with the private sector to promote the business case for investing in gender equality and to develop practical tools to improve recruitment, retention, and promotion of women employees, according to IFC.
“This unique network will provide a forum for professional women of all backgrounds to share their stories, develop leadership skills, and build supportive professional relationships,” said Amy Luinstra, IFC’s Senior Operations Officer (Gender). It will also work with businesses to develop pro-active policies and practices “. Combining workplace cultural shifts with these dynamic, empowered, and connected businesswomen from the network has the potential to create profound change in the community and economy.”
The network was launched with an event attended by over 50 professional women Also present at the event were IFC’s Resident Representative, Seva Payevskiy, Australian High Commissioner, Andrew Byrne, Australian Foreign Minister Julia Bishop, and Australian Senator, the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Minister for International Development and the Pacific and Senate Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Penny Wong.
“The launch was a great springboard for local businesswomen. They heard inspirational stories from other women, including prominent women leaders from Australia,” said Seva Payevskiy, IFC’s Resident Representative (Solomon Islands). “Going forward, this will help build confidence and leadership skills among women who can contribute to the growth of the private sector in the Solomon Islands.”
“We are proud to be leading this effort along with IFC,” said Jay Bartlett, Chair of the SICCI Board of Directors. “Our businesses are only as successful as the employees in them. Efforts like this to build leadership skills and networking opportunities for emerging women leaders are critical.”
The Solomon Islands is one of the most gender-unequal countries in the world. Women’s participation in the formal labor force is approximately half that of men. There have been only three female members of parliament since the country won independence in 1978. Two in every three women have experienced some form of violence at the hands of an intimate partner.