RAMSI Supports Correctional Services First Gender Report

More than 100 people gathered in Honiara on 14 June 2012 to celebrate the official launch of Cooling Agents and Panadol – the first ever Gender Audit Report of the Correctional Services of Solomon Islands (CSSI).

Cooling Agents and Panadol is the product of a seven month audit led by CSSI staff which assessed CSSI’s progress towards gender quality in its work and workforce. Ten staff from CSSI were appointed to the Gender Audit Team to conduct the audit, with support from RAMSI’s Gender Adviser. The audit was benchmarked against international best practice methodologies and customised to the Solomon Islands context.

The report highlights CSSI’s success as a leader for gender equality within Solomon Islands and regionally. The CSSI has established a women’s network and the Pacific Islands Regional Correctional Women’s Conference, provides gender training for staff and has set targets for increasing the number of females in CSSI’s ranks and executive.

The report’s title “Cooling Agents and Panadol” reflects the ability of CSSI female officers to diffuse tension and conflict within correctional facilities; a skill valued by their male colleagues.

The report also finds that there are some ongoing challenges and opportunities for CSSI to strengthen and improve its gender equity work. The five key recommendations from the report include incorporating gender into the CSSI Corporate Plan, establishing a dedicated Gender Officer, creating a CSSI website, strengthening rehabilitation programs to focus on ending gender based violence, and for donors to continue to support CSSI’s gender efforts.

The Solomon Island’s Minister for Police, National Security and Correctional Services David Tome officially launched the report and congratulated CSSI on the initiative.

“The completion of this CSSI gender report is an important aspect of enhancing the values of CSSI, which include respect, diversity, capacity development, culture appropriateness, inclusiveness and accessibility, openness, transparency and staff development”, Mr Tome said.

“The achievement of the CSSI mission and values will not be fulfilled without people. It is important that CSSI continues to have staff development as a priority. Staff development in areas of leadership and management are essential to getting the organisation to where it wants to be today and in the future. This includes the continuous improvement of gender equity and equality for female officers.”

RAMSI Development Coordinator, Dr Jane Lake also welcomed the report and congratulated CSSI on its leadership and vision.

“This CSSI gender audit is a clear demonstration of how the Solomon Islands Government has taken forward and made gender equity mainstreaming a practical reality.”

“Investments in gender equity are wise. Women are half the population. And if we are not actively using half the population, the outcomes for any country are always going to be worse. Gender equity isn’t just an opportunity for women to have a greater say, it helps to build healthier, more diverse and positive workplace environments, that are better not only for the people working in those institutions but better for the country as a whole.”

“The CSSI has demonstrated great boldness, courage and commitment to the pursuit of excellence. This example of an audit, a genuinely different audit, is about understanding where we are, and working out how to better make a difference for the future,” Dr Lake said.

CSSI Commissioner, Francis Haisoma, who commissioned the report, welcomed the report’s findings and promised to take forward the recommendations.

“CSSI as an organisation has as its key priority gender equity to align with the national policy of the government. And over the years, I as Commissioner have been very supportive to push forward gender equality.”

“We need to look at progress, if we are to go further ahead. We cannot say we are the champions, that we are leading the region, without taking stock.”

“There will be more challenges ahead with the recommendations presented today, and I assure my good staff tonight that the executive will look into them. But we also need to understand we cannot achieve things overnight; there has to be support, commitment and there has to be resources available.”

Emele Duituturaga, RAMSI’s gender adviser, who provided support to the appointed CSSI gender audit team, commended the professionalism of the audit team.

“This is a groundbreaking initiative. I do not know another correctional service anywhere in the world that has actually conducted a gender audit. We also know that this is the first of its kind in Solomon Islands,” Mrs Duituturaga said.

“This was a journey of capacity and leadership development. It was and it is about men and women, Solomon Islanders, learning about themselves, learning of each other, and taking ownership of development.”

“This experience has shown that within the core business of CSSI, which is rehabilitation and reintegration, gender dynamics is fundamental to understanding the root causes of why people go into Correctional Services to be looked after in the first place.”

“This report is also a gift to the public service of Solomon Islands. It is a model of change; it is a model of how individuals have taken ownership of that change, leading an organisation, and having impact on Solomon Islands.”