May 10, 2021 Last Updated 2:42 AM, May 10, 2021

Over five weeks in April and May, Solomon Islands One Television premiered RAMSI’s new documentary series, Mere Blo Iumi, Stori Blo Oketa—Our Women, Their Stories. A five part series, Mere Blo Iumi, Stori Blo Oketa records the extraordinary experiences of Solomon Islands women in recent history as peacemakers, parliamentarians, business leaders, educators and homemakers— in their own words and for the first time.

Those interviewed include Ruth Liloqula, the first woman in Solomon Islands to be appointed Secretary to Cabinet; Dr Alice Pollard, who together with Ruth Liloqula, led the Women for Peace Movement during the ethnic tensions; Joy Kere, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace; and Ethel Sigimanu, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs.

While the series features 19 Solomon Islands women, RAMSI’s Special Coordinator Nicholas Coppel hopes it will provide inspiration for many more. “We hope Mere Blo Iumi will stand as an important and frank historical record for future generations. And that it will serve as an inspiration to the thousands of men and women who are genuinely interested in working in partnership to realise the wonderful potential of this nation,” says Coppel. Dr Alice Pollard, series participant, also believes the series captures an important aspect of Solomon Islands history, which is often overlooked.

“It is quite important in an oral society like Solomon Islands to document women’s stories. Otherwise it is gone and unrecognised, and unknown the work that women do. They are not documented in any way. “So putting women in this series helps bring women out from where they are and allows them to tell their stories to their nation.”

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The Solomon Islands is experiencing a mobile phone revolution, according to the latest People’s Survey—a national public perception survey of nearly 5,000 Solomon Islanders. The 2011 People’s Survey, commissioned by the Solomon Islands Government and RAMSI, found that 75 percent of Solomon Islanders had access to a mobile phone in 2011, up from only 23 percent in 2009.

The latest People’s Survey has revealed other trends in national life such as continued growing support for women’s representation in parliament. This reached an all-time high of 89 percent as well as a narrowing of the education gap between men and women.

The survey also confirmed that Solomon Islands women are becoming increasingly confident to speak out about their own needs and community issues. First introduced in 2006 by RAMSI as part of its efforts to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the Solomon Islands-RAMSI partnership, the annual People’s Survey provides a unique insight into the opinions of Solomon Islanders on a wide range of issues such as access to services, safety, household finances, leadership and accountability.

The survey also measures people’s confidence in government, the police force and in RAMSI which maintained strong support at 86 percent in 2011. At the launch of the survey in Honiara on February 29, 2012, the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo said his government is committed to using the People’s Survey 2011 to inform its work in shaping the country’s development.

“The results reflect what has been achieved so far. More importantly, it tells us what areas need further commitment and hard work. “Let’s work together to make the work count and use it to make sure people’s desires for our country are achieved.”

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Ruth Liloqula, the first woman in Solomon Islands to be appointed Secretary to Cabinet in 2007, was presented with the Special Coordinator’s Award for Women at RAMSI’s annual Women’s Breakfast held as part of International Women’s Day celebrations in Solomon Islands. Presenting the award, RAMSI Special Coordinator, Nicholas Coppel said it seemed timely to recognise that generation of Solomon Islands women who had broken through the barriers not only as the first women but often as the first Solomon Islander to hold a post and in doing so, had played a very real role in shaping their new nation.

Coppel said he was delighted to be presenting this year’s award to a woman renown for her discipline, diligence and dedication to serving her nation. “Throughout her career, Liloqula has done this with courage and commitment so clear sighted that at times it has been known to make life quite uncomfortable for those not so dedicated to accountable and transparent government. “This is a woman who had always wanted what is right and best for her fellow Solomon Islanders, who is a firm believer that Solomon Islands not only has the responsibility but also the capacity to manage its affairs effectively and in doing so, deliver a better life to the people of this nation.” In accepting the award, Liloqula said while she was humbled and honoured to receive it, she also thought it was ‘about time’ women be acknowledged for their efforts on behalf of the nation.

“Our country needs us and our ability to survive and keep going in influencing the influencers.” It has not been an easy road to be doing the right thing and staying uncorrupted when contributing to the development of this country, she said. “The grounding provided by my parents, family, culture and tradition of my province gave me sanctuary in times of need and when I faced backlash and challenge,” Liloqula said. She thanked all of those who had stood by her, saying even her critics over the year’s had aided her progress and development.

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RAMSI’s transition does not mean the mission is packing up and leaving any time soon, RAMSI Special Coordinator Nicholas Coppel, recently explained during
consultations held in Malu’u, North Malaita. “We are not leaving but rather our police force is changing from an operational role to a role in support of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF),” Coppel told a group of localleaders, teachers and provincial officials. A good example of this is how the mission
has decided with the RSIPF to handle the with drawal of its police personnel from most of the provinces. “When we withdraw, we won’t just pull out, taking everything with us and never look back,”says Coppel. “We are putting in place a training programme, a mentoring programme for the provincial police commanders as well as ensuring the RSIPF are adequately resourced to take the lead in policing. “So far, RAMSI has withdrawn its police personnel from the provinces of Isabel, Temotu, Makira, Rennell and Bellona, and Central, as well as two posts on the weathercoast of Guadalcanal. Malu’u, Munda in Western province and Taro inChoiseul will be added to this list shortly.
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Protests in Honiara during the election of new Prime Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo late last year, provided an important barometer for the effectiveness of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.RAMSI Update: Think, Act; Plans to update Solomons Police Act Protests in Honiara during the election of new Prime Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo late last year, provided an important barometer for the effectiveness of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force. As the situation soured and some 500 angry youths began to make their way through town, it was officers of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF)___not RAMSI’s Participating

Police Force (PPF)—that took the lead in quickly dispelling the disturbance, dispatching and arresting rock-pelting, would-be rioters before any real harm was done. For observers and the community at large, it was a proud moment and a sign of how much things have changed. Eight years ago, when RAMSI was first deployed to the not so Happy Isles, this sort of confidence—both within the community and amongst the officers themselves—seemed a long way off.
Back then, it was RAMSI who took the front-line in policing, whereas now almost all RAMSI officers serve solely in training, administrative or ‘capacity building’ roles within the RSIPF
 

 

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