Women as Agents of Change: Jenny Tuhaika

SI was privileged to take part in the Commonwealth’s ‘Women as Agents of Change’ competition, launched to celebrate the theme of Commonwealth Day 2011. Although we were restricted to only 3 nominations we received many fantastic submissions. This week, we will be running a special blog series to celebrate all the nominations – a fitting close to a month where women have been celebrated across the Commonwealth!

Jenny Tuhaika – Solomon Islands

Jenny was a charter member of the Soroptimist International Solomon Islands Club in 1992. She grew up on

but as a young bright student at Grade 5 she had to leave her family and go to

to further her education.  After leaving school Jenny married and developed a private business exporting local women’s handicraft. Despite this being highly unusual for a woman in the Solomon Islands Jenny persisted, her passion to help other women driving her on.

As a member of the Solomon Islands Business Association, Jenny attended Trade Shows and Workshops bringing back ideas that helped local craftswomen develop business acumen, expand their range of marketable products, and encouraged financial literacy and financial independence. 

Jenny took up voluntary leadership roles with many women’s organisations; Board Member of the YWCA in the 1980’s, Women’s group at her Church, and the National Council of Women (NCW).

In 2007 she was elected Chairperson for the Solomon Islands Constitutional Reform Congress. This congress is mandated to produce the final content of a new Federal Constitution for the country

Currently Jenny is the President of the Solomon Islands National Council of Women, which is an umbrella body for all NGO Women’s Organisations in the country.  Still she finds herself doing all this work in a voluntary capacity.

Women’s Resource Centres (

This project was initially funded by Soroptimist International through the International President (Hilary Page) in 1998 and was tasked to build one large Resource Centre for Women in

. Unfortunately, at the same time the ethnic conflict commenced and this resulted in many women fleeing back to their villages. The project was renegotiated with help enlisted from the Community Peace Restoration Fund (arm of AusAID). In 2003 a memorandum of understanding was signed and the project was back on track to fund the building of 9 resource centres in the Provinces.

Between 2005 – 2008 Jenny was the elected chair of the National Steering Committee (
NSC) for the
WRC project.  The committee were tasked to negotiate with Provincial Governments in 9 Provinces for the allocation of land for the centres; seek support of all stake holders in the 9 Provinces and the Provincial Government at the Political level for the
WRC project and facilitate research on four components for the WRCs:

  1. Legal identity
  2. Administration
  3. Financial sustainability
  4. Communications

The Committee also produced and promoted a
WRC operation manual and produced and conducted training on the
WRC Governance Training Manual.

Now the
WRC’s are a focal point for Women’s networking, information sharing, skills training and awareness programs.                                                                                                          

The environment for change has often been difficult. The

Solomon Islands
went through a devastating period of civil unrest from 1998 – 2003 that that devastated the economy and broke down law and order. There are no women in the Solomon Islands Parliament so there has been minimal support from the Government. Many areas do not have power or running water let alone modern communication systems. Women often walk 3 hours to the nearest nurse aid post. 

Women have great difficulty advancing their role as equal contributors to their society. Jenny’s achievements are outstanding when you consider the hardship and bureaucracy that women experience in the

Solomon Islands
and that everything takes twice as long as anticipated. However, through Jenny’s perseverance 9 regional resource centres have been established. Jenny is certainly an ‘Agent of Change’ in a society where women have enormous barriers to overcome before they reach parity with

men or women from other cultures.

Jenny was nominated as an Agent of Change by her club. Many thanks to Beverley Herbert for sharing Jenny’s story.

Click here to learn more about SI’s project in the Solomon Islands.

Our Soroptimist Commonwealth Agents of Change will be shared every morning and afternoon this week. We hope you will continue to follow our celebratory blog posts!





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