26th September, 2012
Women leaders praised former prime minister Manasseh Sogavare for establishing the Ministry for Women, Youth, and Children Affairs. Director of Voice BloMere Solomon, a group representing women in the country, Josephine Teakeni, says the ministry ensures women’s issues are addressed. “The establishment of this ministry was significant for women because it had been bringing up issues affecting them to the fore front,” Teakeni says. She was speaking at a workshop on democracy, good governance and elections that ended in Honiara last Wednesday.
Sogavare served as prime minister on two occasions. He first assumed power in 2000 after then prime minister Bartholomew Ulufa’alu was ousted in a coup by militants. He returned to the helm in the 2006 elections but was ousted in a motion of no-confidence just after more than a year in power. His government established the Ministry for Women, Youth, and Children Affairs in 2007. Teakeni says previous governments consistently ignored requests by women for a ministry that would represent their interest.
The ministry is currently headed by a woman, Ethel Sigimanu. Sigimanu, who is the permanent secretary, says the establishment of the ministry was a huge relief for women. “This ministry is the platform on which women bring their issues before they were taken up to the top level leadership,” she says. Prior to the establishment of the ministry, women’s affairs were dealt with under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
By Elliot Dawea