Freda Nokari and Rosemary Palusi
Law Enforcement Officers, Honiara City Council
My name is Freda. I have one brother and two sisters. My dad passed away in 2013 and my mother stays at home. I am a recent graduate from the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) where I studied for a Certificate in Agriculture.
My name is Rose, I am 24 years old and I come from a family of six siblings – 3 boys and 3 girls and I am the second to last. I am from Temotu province and part Isabel province.
What is your current position at HCC?
Both women are law enforcement officers with the Honiara City Council. Freda has been in the position for six months and Rose one month. They are the only two females currently in the law enforcement division.
What is a normal working day like?
We work in teams, mostly with another male colleague.
Freda:On a normal day, we go out to the streets depending on the task we have been given then we are posted to different areas.
Rose: So for example, this week we are patrolling mostly along the under road tunnels (for pedestrians) which have just been opened up again today*. People have been using it, so we are checking that is not going to be abused and that it is kept clean.
On other days, our patrols are usually around checking cleanliness and compliance of vendors with Council regulations.
When vendors don’t comply, we sometimes give them a warning but most times we arrest them and bring them to the office where we charge them and later they appear in court.
Have you had the opportunity to take a leadership role in your work?
Freda:I feel proud of the fact that as females we are the first to take up a job that is normally very male dominated.
Rose: I enjoy it; we are the first females in the whole of the Solomon Islands to take this job. There are about 54 males and we are the only 2. I’m very proud of that fact.
What challenges have you faced (if any) in your work?
Rose: Sometimes when we are patrolling the street, we experience swearing from vendors while carrying out our duties. Mostly verbal abuse. This problem comes from both male and female vendors.
Freda: There are many problems, sometimes when we approach the vendors, they argue with us. They behave this way either because we are female or because of the job that we are doing.
Any challenges from or working with your male colleagues?
Rose: I have found that even though we are the only two females working within the Division, we get a lot of respect from our male colleagues.
Freda: When we are in the office they treat us as if we are one of the boys, as equals. So no problems from them.
What have been some of your biggest accomplishments (both personal and at work)?
Freda: A good accomplishment for us is knowing that there we were not the only females who applied for this job. There were other females, and to know that the two of us came out on top is a great accomplishment and we’re proud of that.
Why do you think women and girls need to participate in local decision making?
Freda: It’s very important, especially in communities and villages. If they participate in local decision making they will also be able to contribute and understand more about projects that are introduced or implemented in their communities too.
What do you think HCC can do to improve the lives of women and girls?
Freda: Include them more in decision making so they are better aware of how the council works and its role. They also need more opportunities to voice their opinion, safe spaces where they will also not feel intimidated.
Rose: I would also encourage more women to join the law enforcement division. If you look around the streets of Honiara, you will see more women sitting around, some chewing betelnut, not doing anything. So I would encourage them to apply and take up a job in law enforcement because we need more people to patrol the streets.
What would be your message to other women and to men?
Freda:Women need to get involved in the trainings and workshops about gender so that they are more aware of the issues. Men should allow their wives the opportunity to attend these courses when the opportunity arises.
Rose:I would agree with Freda, but to especially encourage young women to attend these trainings and workshops. There are so many unemployed young people especially women, roaming the streets, it would good for them to go and learn things about gender and women’s rights.
I also have a message to the vendors that they need to work with us and not against us so that we can keep our city clean. We are only trying to do our job and
*As at the time the interview was conducted in August 2014.