SOLOMON ISLANDS: New Party to Encourage More Women MPs in the Solomons

Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Radio Australia
Solomon Is.
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 

The motivation behind a new political party in Solomon Islands is to get more women into parliament.

It's the first party since independence in 1978 with a charter focusing on women's issues.

It's called the 'Twelve Pillars to Peace and Prosperity Party' or TP4.

However, membership is not restricted to women, anyone who identifies with the 12 pillars contained in the party's charter are welcome to join.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts
Speaker: Delma Nori founding member of the Twelve Pillars to Peace and Prosperity Party or TP4

NORI: A strong economy, fair education with gender balance, state security, healthy living, environment and full security infrastructure, a strong finance, good governance, lands, business and foreign investors, work and employment, family and religion.

COUTTS: Now that pretty well covers the full gamut of political social culture in Solomon Islands. But firstly we'll just go to one of them as women and gender balance, why do you think that you need a whole party dedicated to women in Solomon Islands?

NORI: Contrarily in fact this party was formed not only for women, but for men and youth and why I formed this party because other parties they're formed by men and a lot of issues that affect women I didn't see any in their platforms. For example, we tried to pave a way for women to go into parliament to decision making. I didn't see that in other parties. So I had to form that because I want to see ten temporarily, ten reserved seats where women fighting for this current government to include in their amendment constitution bill. But they just throw it away. So for that reason we have to form this party with some other women and even men to take it further. And not only that, we want to see a gender balance in decision making where only done by males, that's why I formed this new party and it's not a women's party anyway. It's for everyone, it's only women that initiated it.

COUTTS: When I was in Solomons Islands recently speaking to a number of the candidates, particularly the women intending candidates, they were saying that one of the most difficult things that they confront when they're running these campaigns is money or lack of access to money to run their campaigns. Is that something that you were finding with the launch of your political party?

NORI: Yeah that's a part of the problem but we need to work hard on it, for example when I launched this party I tell the people that we're going to do some fundraising, they're willing to come so towards the end of this month we might have a big fundraising to raise enough money to help our women. The other problem that we face last election is trying to run under any political party, but they didn't accept us so have the courtesy to reply to our application, let alone sponsoring them.

COUTTS: Women, not just in the Pacific Islands and particularly Solomon Islands, but in most countries are at least 51 per cent of the national population. Do you think that women will identify with your party and what you're trying to do?

NORI: At the moment after the launching of the party the people are coming up and a lot of women are coming and seeing me about it and now looking at the pictures because they are the ones that are most affected by this declining economy in Solomon Islands. And we have a lot of women going into other areas, prostitution and something like that because they have nothing. So now they see what we are trying, women are striving for to help them and to help the population of Solomon Islands who are the grassroots people, because they're the majority, because the resources we have here they only benefit a few people.

COUTTS: Now you mentioned that you wanted to have included in the government policies that are gender friendly policies, can you just give us a description of some of those policies?

NORI: The policies that I was talking about were like fair education, the other one was employment, the other one is business and of course with family and religion were all dominated by men.

COUTTS: In some of these cases and you quite often hear women saying that their biggest opponents aren't actually other men but they're other women. Is that what you're finding as well?

NORI: Yeah that one it's very true, but then we have to work hard with women to organise them and now we have women coming out. I mean after doing some awareness, why we need women in parliament because all along these women they have been brainwashed by our people that only men can take the leading role. But after having some awareness programs and workshop with these women and also with men and now they're realising yes we need women in the parliament.

COUTTS: Do you think that you'll be successful given that the opposition and the hurdles that you're fronted by?

NORI: It's something I just have to tackle it. We have to tackle all these problems and try to convince the people why we need women in there and of course we will have strong opposition by men and now some of the parties they are threatened because when I launched the party and they feel threatened and they say if I mobilise the women because we have the numbers, they might cause problems to them.

COUTTS: Now then you are married to a fairly famous person in Solomon Island politics, Andrew Nori, and he's a lawyer, but he was also prominent as a spokesman for the Malaita Eagle Force. Does that help or hinder you that kind of profile that you're associated with?

NORI: No, in fact he has his own party, the PAP Party and he's busy with his own party. And I'm busy with my own party and he was asking me why I didn't join up, and I gave him the reasons. No, he will not be a hindrance to our movement.

COUTTS: So you'd be running against each other in the same seat?

NORI: No he's running in a different constituency and I'm running in a different constituency.

COUTTS: How many people have signed up to your party already?

NORI: Most of them we have here is women.

COUTTS: How many?

NORI: So far we have people who already sign as members in the party, more than 100 people. There are people still coming, they want to be a member of this party. They're all mixed; youth, women and men as well.