Solomon Islands election candidate Rhoda Sikilabu says women want change

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26th August, 2013

Flag of Isabel Province

A Solomon Islands politician says women in her country are fed up with not benefitting from any of the money that passes through the hands of her male counterparts.

Rhoda Sikilabu is a former deputy premier of Isabel province and now a provincial assembly member who is standing in next year’s general election.
She has just completed an exchange to Melbourne under the Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships scheme – something she says is proving vital in helping her to improve the lives of her constituents.

Mrs Sikilabu says she does not have the cash that men politicians have to fund their campaigns so she has focused on building relationships with donors and agencies that can deliver services.

RHODA SIKILABU: The only solution for me to get to the provincial assembly was to improve projects for women like sanitation, water tanks, water supply. ’Cause I did not have the resources, I did not have the money, like what they’re playing now in politics. Women do not do that kind of thing. I see that is corruption and I see that it’s not good. And because women do not like to be seen as vote-buying and all these kind of things, I did things in a much different way, and that was to deliver services for women, youth and children in the communities. Development is a good thing because it embraces the peoples’ mindset that they see a woman doing positive things, impacting their lives. And that is a very, very good thing for people to put in their minds. Rather than giving them money, cash, I give them development and service delivery.

ANNELL HUSBAND: Yes. And yet when it comes to the election the cash is such a strong influential factor, isn’t it? And men’s influence over their wives and how they’ll vote.

RHODA SIKILABU: That is correct. That is still largely practised in a chiefly strongman leadership. The chiefs normally influence relatives, families and people to vote for who their candidates are and what candidate they want. But for me I have done a lot of education in many ways to my community. They have their rights to vote and they see things that are correct and right for them to choose. And I have been influencing women of the communities that a woman is like a mother. It’s so close to you. You can sit near, face to face, and discuss things the way you can’t do with men. Although I don’t have money to do this, I have the influence of women, that coming to a woman is a great connection that you cannot do with a man. So that is the way I went impacting these women, that woman-to-woman is a very close link, that they can go as far… There is no limits. We can go as far as developments can bring us.

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