International Women’s Day was honoured on Monday March 8, with members of the Project Office, Tina Hydro Limited and women leaders from the Tina River Hydropower Project catchment areas participating in a celebratory parade through the streets of Honiara. While International Women’s Day is day for celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, this year’s focus is on the theme #ChooseToChallenge – a theme that promotes “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity and this year particularly, bringing a feeling of hope after a challenging 12 months dealing with the impact of a global pandemic.
Initiatives for women have long been a focus for the Tina River Hydropower Development Project under the Gender Action Plan (GAP). Alongside the rolling out of essential programs, GAP also works at promoting and mainstreaming gender in the Energy and Construction sectors by highlighting the need for more consideration and recognition of women in these fields. Last year, positive foundations were laid with programs being rolled out aiming to help women with education and skills building training while providing a platform to promote the voice, participation and empowerment of women and girls. A highlight of the Tina Gender work in 2020 was the successful roll out of the financial and life skills training held in the communities and attended by over 20 women. Another major success story was the establishment of the Mbahomea Zone 3 Women’s Association; a forum which has allowed these women to become leaders on their own. Among other things, women from this group organise and hold meetings to discuss a range of topics to help build a better future for their community including social, economic, environment issues affecting their lives and that of their children.
Even in recent difficult times with the uncertainly of what COVID-19 may bring to the country and communities, the self-appointed leaders of the Mbahomea Zone 3 Women’s Association, have not given up on doing the things they need to do to earn money to provide for their families. Taking action and choosing to challenge, a handful of these women leaders also choose to participate in the COVID-19 Training of Trainers workshop last year. The aim of that training was to get rural men and women equipped to develop community COVID plans and take these plans back to the regions to be ready to activate in the event of an emergency situation.
While the Tina River Hydropower Development Project itself is on the brink of construction with the eventual aim to create cheaper, more reliable energy for Solomon Islanders, local communities, especially women and girls, will continue to benefit through community development funds, employment opportunities, and training. In the year ahead, the GAP team and its programs will continue to support women in the project catchment area and help them navigate their place in this ‘new’ COVID-19 world.