Australian High Commission
Solomon Islands

Deputy High Commissioner visits Malaita for International Women’s Day

10 March 2017

                                             Deputy High Commissioner visits Malaita for International Women’s Day

Australia’s Deputy High Commissioner, Michael Hassett, joined civil society, government, church and community leaders from Malaita to celebrate International Women’s Day this week.

This was Mr Hassett’s first visit to Malaita Province and a chance to signal the high-level support Australia attaches to progressing gender equality throughout Solomon Islands.

"My first visit to Malaita had a very specific focus," Mr Hassett said.

"Australia is committed to advancing gender equality in Solomon Islands, and we will continue to invest in the area, focusing on areas that are most effective and appropriate for the Solomon Islands context."

"As a man, I feel a personal responsibility to get involved and try to make a difference on gender equality. To not simply stand by, but to speak out and be an advocate where I can."

"I am keen to listen and learn from other champions for gender equality in Malaita and explore how we can work more closely together to advance opportunities for women."

"Gender inequality is a complex issue. Changing attitudes and behaviours, facilitating a more open and inclusive environment, building support networks and equipping women with the skills they need will all take resources and time."

During his first visit to Auki, Mr Hassett met with the Premier of Malaita and members of the Malaita Provincial Government. He met with church leaders, civil society groups and staff from Kilu’ufi Hospital.

A highlight of the visit was participating in two major events for International Women’s Day; a Gender Forum on engaging men in ending violence against women hosted by Oxfam, and a celebration hosted by the Auki Market Vendors Association.

At the market ceremony, Mr Hassett recognised the work of the Auki Market Vendors Association by presenting the High Commission’s Gender Equality Award for their leadership and inclusive decision-making for women market vendors over the past year.

In presenting the award, Mr Hassett noted that women market vendors are becoming leaders in the market community, using their voice and influence to take ownership of the market and suggesting ways it can be improved in future.