The Anglican Church of Melanesia

Melanesia Small

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Women's issues and concerns

Church: Need for wider participation of women at all levels of decision making; ordination of women.
Family: Extra-marital affairs leading to separation and divorce; domestic violence; child sexual exploitation; high birth rate with the average women having more than four children, thus tying women into a traditional cultural role which sees them restricted to domestic duties; "Big man" culture which tends to favour males.

Environment and resource management: for example, poor forestry practices are spoiling water sources, and as women are the traditional carriers of water, they have to travel a lot further to obtain water for the family;

Health issues: HIV/AIDS - just starting to take off in the Solomon Islands; Corruption and poor governance, which adversely affect law and order (and thus personal security), and provision of health and education;

Politics: Lack of representation of women in politics - for example, in the Solomon Islands there has only been one women in parliament for one term since independence in 1978.

Education: High School Fees - there is no free education, and at the secondary level school fees are up to 50% of the average family income. As a result families have to choose which one of their children will be put through high school as far as is possible, and most families choose to put a boy through high school, meaning very few women have completed secondary education; This is reflected in poor literacy rates, especially among women.

Women in decision making

Women are considered for all positions on decision-making bodies, but representation is not equal. Strategic planning now includes women's issues. For example, first chairlady appointed to parish council and first woman tutor at Bishop Patterson Theological College.

Women have played a very important role in peace-making and reconciliation, particularly in the Solomon Islands following the ethnic tension.

Ordination of women
General Synod passed an ordinance allowing the ordination of women, but only three of eight dioceses have ratified the ordinance. Women are in training at Bishop Patterson Theological College and there are two female catechists.

It would appear that the opposition to the ordination of women is largely based on cultural rather than Biblical and theological grounds, and those women who have graduated from BPTC are hesitant to pursue ordination in the face of cultural conservatism. It is likely that the first ordained women will probably be in one of the religious orders and have a ministry primarily in that religious order where cultural objections will not be as significant and the environment more supportive.

Activities related to MDGs and Beijing Platform for Action

Women's groups in CoM use MDGs and BPfA in their programs. The Inclusive Communities Program

Women's organizations

Church: Mothers' Union, Community of the Sisters of the Church (CSC) and Community of the Sisters of Melanesia (CSM), Christian Care Centre, Girls Friendly Society; Inclusive Communities Programme
Ecumenical: Solomon Islands Christian Association Federation of Women, Women's Desk of the Pacific Conference of Churches, World Council of Churches, Roman Catholic Women's Organisation, Dorcas (Seventh Day Adventist), Bishop Patterson Theological College (BPTC) Anglican (also has United Church of Solomon Islands faculty and staff), Women for Peace, Various Youth Groups, Solomon Islands Christian Association (SICA) Federation of Women, United Church women, South Seas Evangelical Church women's fellowship.
Secular: Solomon Islands Government (SIG) Women's Unit, National Council of Women (NCW), Development Services Exchange, National Council of Women, Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), Women's Development Division (SIG)
Vois Blo Mere (Pijin for "Voice of Women" - a radio programme on the national broadcaster), Family Support Centre, Oxfam (SI), World Vision (SI), Development Services Exchange, Solomon Islands Development Trust (SIDT), Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association (SIPPA), Ministry of Women, Youth and Children, Ministry of Health