Gender Coordinator for World Vision
Anastacia previously worked at the Guadalcanal Provincial Government as a Facilitator for the Rural Development Program. She now works for World Vision, a non-governmental organization.
What is your current position?
I am the Project Coordinator for the Community Channels of Hope Program for World Vision.
What does your work involve?
The Community Channels of Hope Program is a gender oriented project targeting thirty communities in two provinces (Guadalcanal and Temotu) in the Solomon Islands. It is funded by AusAid and the project works closely with church leaders. The approach of the program is to reduce gender based violence and substance abuse by 2015. It has three main outcomes which are:
- Targetted communities to have demonstrated a positive attitude towards gender and gender relations
- Linking these communities to support services
- Finding ways of addressing substance abuse
That is basically what my work involves at present.
Have you had the opportunity to take a leadership role in your work?
Yes, as a project coordinator, I am a leader. When it comes to decision making, I am the main person and am also in charge of a group of staff made up of 3 males and 2 females.
What challenges have you faced (if any) in your work?
Introducing gender into the rural areas is a huge challenge. The mindset and cultural traditions are still very strong. We are targeting to change this mindset, but it will take time. We are attempting to use a biblical approach for the reduction of gender based violence and substance abuse, but even then we face challenges in communities that are not Christian (still use traditional religion), so the approach is not appropriate.
Another challenge I face is that even though I am the project coordinator, I still get questioned about my authority by male staff. Mainly asking why I am in that role in the first place and that it should be a male in this position instead. In addition to this, I am one of the youngest project staff members, which may be another reason for their reluctance to accept me as their leader in this project.I do fear sacking them or holding them accountable for their actions in case something happens in retaliation. I am also not from the area in which I work, so I feel intimidated to rub people up the wrong way.
There are challenges in partnership too. I have requested support from several partners, but sometimes they are quite reluctant and demand some form of appreciation from the organization, but because it is not provided for in the log frame, we can’t do much in this regard.
Why do you think women and girls need to participate in local decision making?
For women and girls, I think it is really good for them to participate in the local government system or any other decision making roles. Most of the time, we have only heard of men making decisions. I think we can encourage this by ensuring women are decision makers in the home first. We have to start within our families, for example, women should be able to have a say in making decisions about spending money, where it will come from etc.. It starts from being involved in making these small decisions and then working our way up and I believe in advocating decision making for women at home.
What can local government do to improve the lives of women and girls?
There is a need I see to have a network in place, that lives (not a dying one), where women can connect. And there should be a good leader in charge of the network who has a vision and is inspiring and passionate enough to make it work.
Creating networks in rural areas would be even better, and it would be good to go into the communities. In Guadalcanal most parts are accessible to go in and meet the people and to teach and promote gender equality and women’s voices in decision making.
I think it is vital that we work with the communities first on these issues, because it is the community that will vote and put these women up in local and national level leadership positions. So if the message is not passed to the community, there will nothing happening at that level.
So strengthening these community networks is the best way forward.
What would be your message to other women and to men?
Women are the source of life and no one else brings the population to earth. So if women can give that gift of life, they are more than capable of providing other gifts.