Madeira Manepuhi.
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SOLOMON Islands women have a lot of potential to develop in a lot of aspect, says Madeira Manepuhi.

Mrs Manepuhi is one of the Solomon Islanders living and working in New Zealand and paid tribute to how the level of advancement among Solomon Islands women has grown good reputation over the years.

During an interview with the Women’s Newspaper this week, she said much has improved over the last 10 years. See below the script of the interview.

Solomon Women Newspaper (SWN): Where are you from?

Madeira Manepuhi (MM): My father is from Guadalcanal and mother from Isabel.

SWN: Where are you currently living?

MM: I’m currently living on the west coast of New Zealand  

SWN: Are you working or studying?

MM: I’ve completed my Bachelor in Nursing 3 years ago. I’m currently working between my nursing job and being a farm assistant on a dairy farm.

SWN: How do you see yourself as a Solomon island woman living overseas?

MM: I’ve always seen myself as a Solomon Island representative working in New Zealand. Having come from humble beginnings, I feel privileged to have the opportunity to work here but more importantly the fact that I’m able to assist my family back home.

SWN: Despite living overseas, is there any little contribution you been involve in assisting communities, church groups, women’s groups or schools in Solomon Islands. What is the drive behind such effort?

MM: Yes, I have in the past, and will continue to do so. I guess my drive to do this would be my way of giving back to my old school or paying it forward to the community that had prepared me and given me the life skills to succeed in life.  

SWN: In terms of health, employment conditions or other issues you wish to highlight. How do you see the level of advancement of women in Solomon Islands?

MM: I would like to think that there has been some improvement in these areas within the past 10 years, especially in gender equality in work places and an improved health services targeting women. However it would be unfair for me to assume so, because I have not been kept informed with these issues since being away. This is something I would like to change and be kept well informed and contribute however I can because am one of them.

SWN: What development potential do you see women in Solomon Islands have despite all the challenges they face in a male dominated society?

MM: I believe that Solomon island women have a lot of potential to develop in all aspects of life, given the chance. You only have to look at women in our grassroots level, a lot of them have no formal education but are able to organise women’s group or church groups such as mothers union et cetera in our villages. These days we have a lot of well educated women and girls, given the chance, equal opportunities and leadership roles in our employment force there is a huge possibility that we will see palpable changes for the good.

SWN: Women in Solomon islands over the past years have developed initiatives that really came out to speak against issues affecting them, what is your opinion on this and how do you feel about this?

MM: It is great to see that our women are speaking openly and against what they are feeling or believe in. I think it is empowering for those of us who have not been able to openly talk about issues affecting us. This is only the beginning; I can’t wait to see what these initiatives will snowball into, in terms of opportunities for our women and how it will positively affect us.

SWN: From your experience as a former health worker in the Solomon Islands, were our women getting enough in terms of health and medical services?

MM: I think there is always room for improvement in how the services are being delivered when it comes to women’s health. It depends on where you are I suppose. For the women in our urban centres they get more services provided to them as opposed to the women living in our rural areas. Some of these women in the rural areas have to walk miles to get basic health care services, something that can’t be helped due to the geographical locations of some of our villages. In saying that, am hoping that this issue will be addressed in the near future for the sake of not only our women and children but for the general population as well.

SWN: Under the UN millennium development goals, goal #3 states, promote gender equality and empower women. What is your position on this as an individual Solomon island woman?

MM: I think this is a great initiative, the fact that UN is taking the lead and making it as one of their goals, is empowering! Am all for it.

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