In Her Own Words

Dolores Devesi, Solomon Islands

“I take pride in my work when I see incremental change. These changes may seem small, but I believe that any small positive change is a step in the right direction”

Dolores Devesi is the Country Director of Oxfam Pacific, a WPHF partner in the Solomon Islands. Oxfam Pacific works alongside national partner organizations and communities to address inequalities that produce harm and poverty.

With WPHF’s support, Oxfam Pacific is implementing the “Womanitarian Project”, providing a safe space for women on the island of Guadalcanal to learn, share and identify solutions to respond to and recover from disasters.

“The Womanitarian project has provided the avenue for women to take leadership in times of disaster. Women are natural born leaders, and we are the movers and shakers in any group, family, household or office.”

The “Womanitarian Project” is locally designed and takes an inclusive and participatory approach to ensure that Village Disaster Committees are well-equipped to conduct damage assessments and develop response plans. Evidence from this initiative shows that women-led community assessments were more comprehensive and inclusive, resulting in faster response and locally led recommendations for recovery.

“Women know their context and have the local knowledge on what works and what doesn’t.”

Dolores is motivated by giving back to her community and restoring peace where there has been social unrest. Her work is informed by her experience of ethnic conflict in the Solomon Islands in 2001. Dolores and her family had to flee Honiara, the capital city of Solomon Islands, and had to rebuild what was lost.

“I have had to work hard to prove myself, to challenge, and at times force myself through several barriers in order to be acknowledged.”

Dolores says that her success as a woman leader is inspired by Maya Angelou, whose writing depicts the struggles that women face while portraying their strength, determination and the power that lies in women’s hands to withstand obstacles.

“Seize every opportunity you are given and build each other up, because only then will we overcome the struggles and create a healthier and safer future for our children and grandchildren.”

Dolores believes in quality funding for women and girls’ rights.

“Funding needs to be a long-term and targeted investment, and solutions-focused. Investments need to target the underlying cause of why power imbalances and gender inequality exists, and create space for innovation, creativity and learning.”