Solomon Islands to increase women candidates to contest next elections

August 15, 2023

Women and allies, including the 11 Outstanding Women of Solomon Islands, attending last week´s workshop.

Photo: UNDP/Daniel Gonzalez

As Solomon Islands prepare for the next General Elections slated for April 2024, many hope to see an increased participation of women candidates and the subsequent elevation of women chosen to serve in the National and Provincial Government.

A collective force of approximately 50 women and their allies converged at the Outstanding Women of Solomon Islands Reflection & Planning Workshop, held from 7-11 August in Guadalcanal Province, to rally participants towards making this happen.

The workshop, which included women community leaders from all nine Solomon Islands provinces and Honiara, was organized by the Outstanding Women of Solomon Islands, a coalition of influential women community leaders supported by the Strengthening the Electoral Cycle in Solomon Islands (SECSIP) project, an initiative of the Solomon Island office of UNDP Pacific, with the support of Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The gathering showcased the nation’s collective commitment to shaping a more inclusive political landscape. As Michael Burke, Project Manager of SECSIP highlights: "This reflection and planning workshop has provided a valuable opportunity to unite women from across all Solomon Island provinces to propel the nation towards a more inclusive and diverse political future."

A key objective of this workshop was to empower and amplify women’s voices within the political realm. By fostering engagement in the electoral process as candidates and providing comprehensive training opportunities, the workshop bolstered the leadership and political prowess of women across the nation. Beyond the electoral sphere, the workshop’s overarching mission also encompassed celebrating women’s leadership and enhancing their decision-making and political skills in the hope of increasing women’s overall participation in public affairs.

Enthusiasm filled the room as ideas, plans and projects were dreamed up, aiming to improve their exposure at the ward, provincial and national levels. Rumors circulated among participants, hinting at some already considering a run for office. 

Ms. Crystal Maui, from the RenBel Women Provincial Council during the workshop.

Photo: UNDP/Daniel Gonzalez

The Pacific region harbors the world’s lowest representation of women in elected bodies, and the Solomon Islands are no exception. Out of the 50 Parliamentary seats, only four are held by women. This represents the highest number of women ever elected – only six women MPs have been elected since independence in 1978. Undeniably, challenges persist, but positive transformation is underway. The SECSIP contributes by channeling effective support to advance women’s political representation. The Women Candidate Program, of which this workshop forms a vital component, strives to redefine the political narrative and narrow the gender gap in leadership roles.

For elections to be credible and legitimate they must reflect the diversity of society. Historically, women, youth and persons with disabilities (PWD) faced formidable barriers to participate in the electoral process. Many of these obstacles stem from socio-cultural elements, with a strong patriarchal system and clan and familial identities playing a fundamental role in shaping people’s political allegiances and electoral preferences.

The Outstanding Women of Solomon Islands, an institution launched in 2019 by SECSIP, is playing its part by enhancing the visibility of women leaders at national, regional and local level.

11 'Outstanding Women' were elected at provincial level between representatives of the Provincial Council of Women. Florence Vasaro is leading the way following her election as Honorable Member of the Provincial Government of Choiseul Province. She considers her new role “challenging because I am the first woman ever acting as such but I see myself filling up a considerable gap bringing in the interests of women and children in the decision-making of my community and also my perspective, the way I see things is different from men. While men tend to look at bigger pictures, I concentrate more on the details.”

With the 2030 Agenda as a guiding thread, UNDP works to advance women’s participation in civic and political life, their economic empowerment and their role as builders of peace and resilience. Advancing women’s leadership and encouraging them to take leadership roles is an integral part of SDG 5 with target 5.5 aiming to ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunity for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life.

UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for peace, people and planet. Learn more at or follow us on social at @UNDP_Pacific and @UNDP_Solomons.

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Daniel Calderon Gonzalez -