The Office of the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC) is continuing to lead the way in ensuring equality in elections management, conducting a stakeholder consultation on its gender policy last week.
The consultation, held at the King Solomon Hotel, provided stakeholders with a chance to comment on the implementation of the SIEC’s Policy and Plan on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion.
“This policy, undoubtedly, is another milestone in the SIEC's efforts to enhance equality and inclusive participation in the electoral processes in Solomon Islands,” Acting Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Alphonsus Pero said.
“The Policy on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion has been developed to bridge the gap in election participation among various marginalized eligible groups and establish processes and mechanisms to ensure greater gender equality and social inclusion throughout the electoral cycle. “
The consultation brought together representatives from the SIEC, the Political Parties Integrity Commission, political parties, the Ministry of Women, donor agencies and civil society organisations.
Mrs Ruth Liloqula, representing the Political Parties Integrity Commission said the consultation highlighted that it is time to take conversations about gender to the next level.
“This was an important starting point in discussing what might make a difference in terms of gender equality and how we can influence the upcoming reforms,” Mrs Liloqula said.
“It is an opportunity to contextualize what the issues are, what we need to do and what might be the options to move forward and touch base with reality on the ground.”
Representatives of a number of political parties were also in attendance, expressing their willingness to assist in increasing women’s’ political participation and gender mainstreaming.
Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, Mr. Charles Ashley said that the political parties are untied in their willingness to work with the SIEC and the Political Parties Integrity Commission to drive towards shared objectives
“It is really good that we have held this workshop. What the parties have noticed is that we are trying to make a difference, while there is political will from ruling governments it has been very slow to progress this issue,” Mr Ashley said.
“We are calling on donors, if the government is dragging its feet, then we need the donors to put in the funding through these two very important organisations
The workshop is being staged in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme’s ‘Strengthening the Electoral Cycle in Solomon Islands Project’.