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FLOW Mission to Solomon Islands to implement Stage 3 of the Centres of Excellence for Gender in Local Government
In August, CLGF Pacific was in the Solomon Islands to facilitate Stage 3 of the ‘Centres of Excellence (COE) for Gender in Local Government’ process in the Pacific FLOW Program. The stages of the COE process involved a gender in local government training of trainer’s workshop, a gender in local government training workshop, a gender action planning workshop and an opportunity for the Australian Partner Council to scope to support the implementation of the Gender Action Plans.
Based on the findings of the Gender Strengthening Review (also known as Gender Audit) of the Pacific FLOW Project, Stage 2 of the Centres of Excellence in Gender and Local Government in November 2013 for Honiara City Council (HCC) and Guadalcanal Provincial Government (GPG), a capacity building program was held 13-22nd August, 2014 in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
The capacity building program consisted of Training of Trainers (TOT) and a Workshop on Gender in Local Government (GLG), including a Gender Action Plan was customized, developed and delivered as Stage 3 of the COE process. It was aimed at building greater awareness and understanding of what gender mainstreaming is and its importance. Furthermore, the project was aimed at developing capacities of local trainers in way of a Training of Trainers (TOT) and gender sensitization of elected officials, staff members of the council and provincial government, as well as staff from the Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS).
The training program was designed to help achieve the objectives and outcomes of the Strengthening Review i.e. gender integration/mainstreaming – how and why it is important; and to help improve gender equality and equity issues within council policies, structures, processes, programs and service delivery.
Nine (9) participants comprising of two male and seven female from HCC, GPG and MPGIS took part in the TOT. Twenty-two (22) participants (including 9 TOT trainers), and comprising of five elected members (all male) from Honiara City Council, ten staff members (4 female and 6 male) from the planning, administration, health, education, works and youth, women and sports divisions of HCC; as well as three female officers from the administration, women’s development and education divisions of GPG; and one female and a male from human resources and training divisions of MPGIS respectively, attended the GLG workshop.
The TOT was held from 13-15 Aug, whilst the GLG workshop commenced 18-22 August at Commonwealth Youth Program meeting room in Honiara. Also, the revised Pacific Gender and Local Government Facilitator’s Guide was further tested during this period, providing an opportunity for further customization and general areas of improvement.
The TOT was opened by Director Provincial Governance, MPGIS, Mr Robert Kaua, who remarked that the MPGIS had realized the immense work needed in ensuring gender mainstreaming into various oragnisational programs, including those of GPG and HCC. The PACIFIC FLOW project was helping to fill the gaps, building capacities and confidence levels of staff and thus communities to improve aspects of gender integration, including various relevant policy formulations. Solomon Islands currently have four female elected members at the Provincial level. They include: two in Isabel Province, one of whom is in the Provincial Executive; one representing GPG, who is also part of the Provincial Executive; and one from Western Province. He added that the process of gender integration, although slow, was growing progressively, but needed technical and other types of support from all stakeholders.
The GLG workshop was opened by HCC City Clerk, Mr Charles Kelly, who highlighted the importance of a more holistic approach, which included gender mainstreaming to improving service delivery aspects of the Council. He stated that it was an opportune time for HCC to benefit from programs such as the FLOW project and that support from all stakeholders was necessary to ensure its appropriate execution and thus sustainability. He added that currently, all divisional heads as well as elected representatives at HCC were male – an imbalance that required greater attention in way of targeted policies and programs.
Closing remarks shared by Mr Kelly and Mr Kaua at the GLG workshop were positive and further highlighted the need for gender sensitized/aware trained personnel to help with the work of integration and to move the gender agenda forward. The presence of City Clerk and Director Provincial Government during the workshops and the planning processes was an indication of higher level support to the FLOW project and its implementation towards various phases.