‘Before this training I treated costing and pricing as the same thing when running my business, but now I know they’re quite different. Now I can hopefully attract more customers by pricing my products correctly.’
Ms Mary Roberts, business woman and new member of the Solomon Islands Women in Business Association from West Guadalcanal.


Project: Support to Solomon Islands Women in Business Association
Outcome area: Economic empowerment
Project partner: Solomon Islands Women in Business Association (SIWIBA)
Total funding: $485,000
Funding timeframe: 2014–2017

SIWIBA acknowledges women’s economic empowerment as a key factor to women’s development and participation in the county. SIWIBA’s vision is to inspire women to realise their full potential, importance and status and be increasingly recognised in Solomon Islands’ society. SIWIBA is providing different training that suit both formal and informal businesses.

With support from Pacific Women, SIWIBA has established a Business Development Centre, where women can access training, learning materials and resources. Training is offered in a range of areas so that women can learn new skills in order to set up new income generating activities, as well as improve their ability to manage existing businesses. The work done by SIWIBA is to transition women to the formal economy.

At the end of 2015 SIWIBA hosted a gala to link SIWIBA to corporate houses and be part of the bigger picture in business. This led to a bigger event, the 2016 Women in Business Awards in July 2016. The Women in Business Awards was a milestone for the organisation. There were awards for both the formal and informal sectors recognising business management styles, innovation and skills.

A series of trainings has been conducted for SIWIBA members depending on the interest and demand from members, which range from floral display, phonic reading systems, advanced sewing, leadership and good governance, starting your own business and cookery trainings. Accredited local business trainers within SIWIBA’s pool of skilled resources are engaged to conduct trainings for its members.

West Guadalcanal’s Ms Mary Roberts is one of the many women in business in the Solomon Islands, who’ve benefitted from these trainings.

‘Before this training I treated costing and pricing as the same thing when running my business, but now I know they’re quite different. Now I can hopefully attract more customers by pricing my products correctly,’ she said. Ms Roberts is one of SIWIBA’s newest members.

With support from Pacific Women, SIWIBA plans to continue its mission ‘to promote, develop and empower women’s participation as business owners in the private sector’ in the Solomon Islands.

Businesswoman Ms Mary Roberts from West Guadalcanal is one of SIWIBA’s newest members. Photo: DFAT/Solomon Islands Post.

Project name: Red Cardim Vaelens
Outcome areas: Ending violence against women
Project partner: Live and Learn Solomon Islands
Total funding: $557,810
Funding timeframe: 2015–2017

The Red Cardim Vaelens (red carding violence) project works with young men in sports clubs to foster respectful and non-violent gender relations. Athletes in five soccer clubs and two rugby clubs in Solomon Islands’ two biggest provinces are kicking goals in championing for an end to family violence.

The initiative is supported by Pacific Women and implemented by Live and Learn in Solomon Islands. It provides leadership training and mentoring to young sports players to be role models and advocates against family violence in their local communities. Strong mentoring for young men is another key element of the initiative.

It is a unique approach in Solomon Islands, using sport as a catalyst for change. Early participants in the project quickly demonstrated their commitment to ‘red carding’ violence by joining the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence Campaign.

The project acknowledges research conducted by Live and Learn that shows men are interested in stopping violence in their homes and communities.

‘Every man can help build safer, stronger communities,’ counsels the Red Cardim Vaelens leadership manual. ‘They can work on themselves, be a role model, be a good neighbour or friend, or be a champion to stop family violence.’

Efforts are directed at changing social norms that accept violence by men; promoting non-violent and respectful behaviour among men;and working with sporting club management to have zero tolerance of violence from its players.

Ms Natasha Stott-Despoja, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, values the role men and boys play in ending violence against women and girls in Solomon Islands: ’Sport is a key part of life in Solomon Islands, and therefore provides a powerful vehicle for creating social change,’ said the Ambassador at the launch of the project in November 2015.

‘Preventing violence is everyone’s responsibility, both men and women need to work together to address this challenge.’

Ms Natasha Stott-Despoja, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls (first from right), at the launch of the Red Cardim Vaelens program in Solomon Islands in November 2015. Photo: DFAT/Solomon Islands Post.

Project name: Pacific Regional Ending Violence Against Women Facility Fund (Pacific Fund)
Outcome area: Ending violence against women
Project partners: UN Women and Vois Blong Mere Solomon (VBMS)
Total funding: $1,500,000*
Funding timeframe: 2014–2015

Vois Blong Mere Solomon (VBMS), meaning Voice of Women, is a non-government organisation in Solomon Islands that engages with the media to improve gender-sensitive reporting. VBMS staff and volunteers underwent a specially designed training to prepare them for documenting the stories of survivors of violence.

Partcipants with Ms Joel Supple, a volunteer with the Australian Volunteers International, during a demonstration of the digital story recording process. Photo: VBMS.

VBMS plays a unique role as an influencer in Solomon Islands broadcasting. Since 2002 it has worked to promote gender sensitive media and to increase the exposure of women’s voices.

Through the Pacific Fund, Pacific Women supported VBMS’ Digital Story Documentation project during 2015–2016. This project builds a resource and digital reference collection of stories about ending violence against women. To prepare the staff and volunteer interviewers at VBMS for collecting these stories, VBMS organised a one week workshop on digital story documentation on survivors of violence.

The training was provided to three VBMS staff, 12 volunteers and two media personnel. It focused on how to conduct sensitive interviewing and how to respond if the interviewing affected survivors of violence. Ms Joel Supple, a volunteer with Australian Volunteers International, also assisted with technical training on video recording and production techniques.

‘One of the challenges was the heightened emotions when dealing with difficult topics,’ explained the VBMS team. ‘In response to this, one of our partner’s [under the Pacific Fund], the Family Support Centre, provide[d] a counsellor who [would] accompany us during [the] digital documenting [of] survivors of domestic violence stories in provinces, to provide stress management and trauma counselling for those who need[ed] it.’

The counsellor was available to answer questions and share experiences about working with survivors of violence. The participants noted the importance of this additional resource as they realised that they ‘needed to be at peace within themselves’ before they would be able to engage fully in the project activity.

Following the workshop, the interviewers are now prepared to roll out the story gathering project in Western, Guadalcanal and Malaita provinces.

Workshop participants of VBMS’ Digital Story Documentation project, held in the Guadalcanal Province. Photo: VBMS.

*This activity is part of a larger program.