Solomon Islands is an archipelago of 922 islands, grouped into nine main islands, with Guadalcanal as the largest that hosts the capital, Honiara. More than half of workers (65%) are in vulnerable jobs and are particularly susceptible to economic shocks, including those caused by natural disasters. Despite their determination, unique skills and importance in the community, women in Solomon Islands have little influence on the critical decisions that directly impact their lives because they are not often included in decision-making groups or processes. They face a near-constant threat of flooding, inadequate roads and infrastructure, and very limited opportunities to push their government for improvements. Their homes and businesses are in daily danger, and yet those in power, such as politicians and village elders, do not always hear them.
A heavily male-dominated society, with restrictive beliefs about women’s roles and abilities, has created an environment where women are not encouraged to speak up about the challenges they face or their ideas for positive change. Widely held stereotypes portray women as less able than men and block them from leadership roles. Examples of these long-standing beliefs include the notion that women’s main responsibility is to care for the family, that men should not be involved in unpaid care work, and that women should also always have the permission of their husbands when engaging in any economic activity. Across all ages, girls and women’s participation in education, training and employment opportunities are hindered by high levels of violence against them. As a result, women’s voices are not always heard and they are less able to contribute to the decisions that significantly impact their lives.
Solomon Islands Climate Finance & Empowerment Project is part of our larger five-year, multi-country programme, Kōtui. Read more about Kōtui here!
This te reo Māori word means binding together, or interlacing, during weaving. The woven mat represents dialogue and joint problem-solving in Pacific countries and in Timor-Leste. It is an appropriate symbol for a programme focused on inclusive and equitable governance.
‘Climate finance’ is the term used for funds that support people to stop climate destruction or adapt to its impacts. Effective climate finance is funding that all people can use and benefit from, especially people who experience discrimination and poverty. Oxfam’s work in Solomon Islands seeks to ensure that climate finance decision-makers factor in the needs of women, that there is greater transparency in how climate funds are spent and allocated, and that women’s voices are included in policy and finance decisions.
Women’s increased access to resources
This project will contribute to the Kōtui goal with two long-term outcomes. First, women will have increased access to and control over household and community resources that can improve their resilience. Much of this work will be structured around existing community savings groups in the home area of our partner West Are’are Rokotanikeni Association (WARA), on Malaita Island. It will then expand to further groups and provinces. These savings groups give women a space to come together, store their savings safely, learn financial literacy skills, build their confidence and increase their participation in leadership and decision-making in rural communities. Community led workshops will lift the ability of women (and men) to articulate their issues and negotiate with those who control the resources they need to achieve their aims, in an organised and systematic manner.
The second long-term outcome will ensure that decision-making around climate finance, its governance, is more inclusive, equitable, and transparent, so that all people have the power to influence the decisions that impact them.
Our other partner, Solomon Islands Climate Action Network (SICAN) – will look closely at climate finance in Solomon Islands to understand how much, how and where climate finance flows to communities. SICAN will work to build collaborative relationships with key decision-makers in government departments to improve the governance of climate finance.
Focus on partners:
West ‘Are’Are Rokotanikeni Association (WARA) is an indigenous, women-led organisation with deep experience of gender equity and women’s empowerment programming in rural Solomon Islands communities. Founded in Malaita in 1999, it promotes women’s economic empowerment and leadership through savings clubs which give women a space to come together, store their savings safely, and learn more about managing their finances.
Its model builds on savings groups to promote income generation alongside confidence-building and participation in leadership and decision-making in rural communities. WARA now operates in four provinces, mostly in areas that have no access to road infrastructure or formal banking services, and its 1000+ members and 6000+ savers have together saved more than $2 million SBD.
Solomon Islands Climate Action Network (SICAN) was created in May 2019 as a collective of diverse stakeholders urging climate change action. SICAN has a members from civil society organisations, international Non Government Organisations (NGOs), central and local government, and the private sector. SICAN’s members all contribute their wide range of expertise in informing Solomon Islanders about climate change.
Our partners Solomon Islands Climate Action Network (SICAN) and West ‘Are’are Rokotanikeni Association (WARA) participated in a vibrant panel discussion Gender and Climate Change: the Pacific Experience during Oxfam’s climate week in April 2022. This presented young women with a unique opportunity to share their ideas and research with an international audience. SICAN members continue to engage communities and schools in remote locations. These conversations consolidate understanding of climate change, stress the importance of conservation groups, and suggest ways that communities can integrate climate change considerations into their conservation work.
WARA has continued to build on its longstanding women’s economic empowerment work and Kōtui will support WARA to extend this work into natural resource management and climate change adaptation.
By the end of the five-year Kōtui programme…
We expect to see the following improved governance outcomes:
- Women’s voices are included in more policy processes (consultations, meetings, hearings) related to community-based
climate change adaptation at national and community levels
- Climate adaptation policies and programmes increasingly consider the rights and roles of women and other groups facing marginalisation
- Climate finance decision-makers at the national level increasingly include evidence on impacts and needs of women and other groups facing marginalisation in decision-making
- Greater transparency on climate finance decision processes, allocations and impacts
- More climate finance allocated to addressing the needs and priorities of women and other groups facing marginalisation