Clerk to National Parliament honoured with RAMSI Award for Women

Solomon Islands Clerk to National Parliament, Taeasi Sanga, was today awarded the RAMSI Special Coordinator’s Award for Women, 2013.

Mrs Sanga, who has worked in Parliament since 1979 was presented with the award by the Special Coordinator of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, RAMSI, Nicholas Coppel at the annual RAMSI Women’s Breakfast.

Presenting the award, Mr Coppel said Mrs Sanga in her role as Clerk to the National Parliament was an example not only of a highly effective administrator but a person of exemplarity tenacity and dedication.

“Persevering during the hardest of times during the tensions when funding had all but dried up and parliament became a target for militant activity, Mrs Sanga has, in the past decade, also proved to be a quiet but determined agent for change, keen to strengthen and develop the institution she has served for most of her professional life,” Mr Coppel said.

Despite humble beginnings, Mrs Sanga had risen by the time of Independence in 1978, to become personal secretary to Solomon Islands first Prime Minister, Sir Peter Kenilorea, before joining the staff of the National Parliament in 1979 as a hansard reporter.

“And it is here in the house on the hill, with the exception of a single decade, that she has remained, daily juggling with the utmost patience and grace, the challenges of serving the country’s supreme law-making body and her family responsibilities, made all the more acute with the death of her beloved husband in 2007.

“She has done all this humbly and as a true servant of the people,” Mr Coppel said.

Mrs Sanga, dedicated the award to the team of young people working at Parliament, saying she did not feel worthy of the award herself.

“But I do wish to thank RAMSI for recognising the different roles played by women in this country in the previous awards and for recognising the role played by the Clerk of National Parliament in today’s award.

“I dedicate this award to the team of enthusiastic young people who have been working in the Parliament Strengthening Project since 2006. They always want to do their best knowing that they are assisting our national leaders to play their role in serving the people of this nation. I thank UNDP (United Nations Development Program) and RAMSI for strongly supporting this project,” Mrs Sanga said.

The Special Coordinator’s Award was instituted in 2009 as way of acknowledging and celebrating the achievements of individual women in Solomon Islands.

Presenting the breakfast’s keynote address, the head of Solomon Islands new National University urged the women of Solomon Islands not to wait for political representation before addressing the issues affecting them.

Speaking before 250 women attending the breakfast, the Pro-vice Chancellor, Dr Patricia Rodie, said it was time Solomon Islands women asked themselves some important questions.

“Do we need to be in parliament to bring about the changes we would like to see or do we already have a number of women in influential positions and decision-making roles who can work together to address some of those issues that have been on our priority list for the past five years?”

Dr Rodie also challenged women to come up with a more strategic approach to the gender agenda saying many issues adversely affecting the wellbeing of women have their roots in wider social and socio-economic disadvantage.

“So do we only count success by the number of women achieving eminence in various professions or should we be focusing on broader issues?

“Women of Solomon Islands, I believe we can work together to address, not only issues affecting us directly, but also to contribute to addressing other issues of national importance.

“It is important that any agenda we want to pursue in the name of Solomon Islands women is not only representative of women’s views, but addresses the need of both genders in our country,” Dr Rodie said.

Acknowledging the efforts of the Ministry responsible for women’s affairs, and women organisations for advancing women’s agendas over the past 10 years in Solomon Islands, Dr Rodie said: “We must continue to acknowledge such efforts from our women leaders and work together to improve the status of women in our beloved country, Solomon Islands. Let’s keep the momentum going.”