The women: Members of KAWAKI Women's Network

Their project: An ecotourism venture on the Arnavon Islands

"Our vision for KAWAKI is to unite women to celebrate community, conservation and culture. The KAWAKI women will look after our natural environment and culture. We will build a better future for our children and communities.”

Marilyn Gede: Chair of the KAWAKI Women's Network

Marilyn Gede. © Kate Cranney

The setting

The Solomon Islands boasts some of the world’s richest marine life. It is one of only six countries in the 'Coral Triangle', a region with extremely high diversity of coral and fish species. The diversity of Solomon Island's land-based vertebrates is second only to Papua New Guinea.

The Arnavon Community Marine Park - the first National Park in Solomon Islands - is a a very special place. It protects 15,900 hectares of land and sea, including three small uninhabited islands, flourishing reefs, fish-filled lagoons, and beaches that are home to thousands of hawksbill sea turtles. The Arnavon Islands are the largest rookery (nesting place) of the critically endangered hawksbill turtle in the entire South Pacific!

Most Solomon Islanders depend upon this extraordinary environment for their livelihood. Yet logging, mining, climate change and over-harvesting of species threaten these precious resources.

Our work with women in the Solomon Islands

The Nature Conservancy has worked in the Solomon Islands since 1995. We have partnered with the Mother’s Union to train 40 women facilitators, who have now visited 12,000 people in remote communities, raising awareness of the importance of making well-informed decisions about mining and logging.

As word has spread, new women’s groups are forming in other provinces. The Nature Conservancy coordinated the first mining awareness forum, and women from across the Solomon Islands had a say in informing the nation’s mining policy reform process.

In the Arnarvon Islands, we helped form KAWAKI Women's Network, a new conservation group where women are taking a leading role in conserving the most important hawksbill turtle rookery in the South Pacific.

The women's project

The women of KAWAKI are eager to create the Solomon Island’s first women-run ecotourism venture! Their ecotourism venture will be based on Kerehikapa Island, one of three islands that make up the Arnavon Marine Protected Area. The women have already been hosting supporters and tourists in an informal manner for a number of years; the Arnavons is also known to some tourists. The women are excited to formalise their skills around hospitality and tourism, and to see this business thrive and grow!