Market Revenue Collector, Markets Division, Honiara City Council
My name is Grace Ehakeni and I am from Malaita Province in the Solomon Islands. I come from a family of three siblings, two girls and one boy including myself. I am married with three sons.
What is your current position with the council?
I work for Honiara City Council as a revenue collector in the central market. Every day I spend my time at the Central market talking with vendors and people who come to buy or sell goods.
In terms of resources for carrying out my work, we do not have enough, there is some but it is not sufficient.
How long have you been working with the Council?This is my first job with the council and have now been working with HCC for six months. Previously I was staying in the village.
Have you had the opportunity to take a leadership role in your work?In theMarket Division we have a Marker master, Supervisor and I am the assistant and only female taking up this role, so in a way I am showing an example to other women who would want to apply or take up this role as well.
What challenges have you faced? Working in this field is not safe, particularly if you are woman, because we are dealing with public money and collecting. This attracts attention and people watch us while we do our job. They watch us as we collect and take funds back to our office, which also isn’t safe. At times I have carried my job out without wearing shoes, which is a health hazard as the marketplace can be a very unclean place and we become prone to illnesses and health risks while doing our job.
Another challenge is the amount of time that I give to my job. Sometimes hours are long and I need to bear in mind the commitment to my own family and time that must be spent with them too, as a mother and as a wife. Sometimes I am late for work due to family needs so I have to juggle family life and work commitments and try to balance it. On the other hand, sometimes I stay late at work and this can cause problems in terms of transport back home and family obligations.
Other challenges are with the vendors, particularly when they don’t comply with council rules and regulations in regards to market fees. Most of the time the problem is because the vendors do not understand the rules so we have to explain and discuss it thoroughly with them.
What have been some of your biggest accomplishments?I am proud of being the only woman in my current job, competing with them. My ultimate goal while in this employment is to try and get to the position of Market mistress.
Why do you think women and girls need to participate in local decision making?I think women should participate in decision making because some of their ideas would be very beneficial. It will also be good to have more women as it will encourage women in the community to take up their concerns and know that their voice will be heard from a woman’s perspective, she will understand where they are coming from.
What do you think HCC can do to help improve the lives of women and girls?
Provide more training opportunities for the women such as workshops, further education, job opportunities to promote women to apply.
Message to other women:
Women shouldn’t feel sorry or have pity for themselves. They should think highly, be confidant and independent that anything is possible. Some women have low self esteem or feel like they can’t do it because maybe their cultural backgrounds forbid them from stepping up. For me I would strongly encourage women, educate yourself in order to gain more knowledge to expand and broaden your minds. Join other groups, networks and women’s activities. Women should also be included in discussions about social and political issues, I think a lot of the time they are left out and need to be involved in such matters as it affects them.
Men should encourage women, their wives their daughters and to not neglect them. Working together as equals is the way forward.