World Vision Solomon Islands (WVSI) is standing behind this year’s International Women’s Day, which calls on the international community to “Pledge for Parity” and increase equality for all women.
International Women’s Day is marked annually every 8th March and aims to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women everywhere. This year World Vision will join other organisations to show their support for the women of Solomon Islands and around the world, by participating in a parade through Honiara along with other activities throughout the day.
The World Vision Gender program is helping to improve gender equality in the Solomon Islands, using the Australian Aid funded Community Channel of Hope (CCoH) program. The program, which primarily targets gender-based violence using a faith-based approach, is also changing attitudes and behaviour by improving gender relations.
The program uses Community Hope Action Teams (CHATs) as advocates for gender issues. The CHATs are community members who create and conduct local action and information sharing about gender, peace, positive conflict resolution and substance abuse.
One CHAT member, Everlyn Poasi, a faith leader at Mamanawate community, says since the implementation of the project in their community, she has noticed many changes. Now, she says, men and women in their community are working together in almost everything.
“Men are helping women, particularly their wives, in their work,” she says. “Women are now taking leading roles in community meetings and planning and men mainly supporting.”
Poasi says that running a home or community can only work if both men and women do it together.
The CCoH program has produced other positive results too. An independent evaluation by University of Queensland, Australia, asked participants to agree or disagree with the statement that ‘the Bible says men are superior to women’, 78% of people in the target community disagreed, compared to 58% before the program started.
World Vision believes that these findings demonstrate a significant change in attitude and a positive step forward for gender equality.
World Vision Country Director James Ginting is hopeful that such results can be replicated across the Solomon Islands.
“Behaviour and attitude changes take time, and it may take one generation. But, this is a sign of hope that changes are possible and it is happening. We shall build on this momentum and work together to bring about gender equality in Solomon Islands,” says Mr Ginting.
The Australian Government supports the Community Channels of Hope project in Solomon Islands.