Dr. Alice Pollard, Advocate, Women’s Financial Independence, Solomon Islands
“We must not underestimate the cash earnings of rural women. Even though they do not earn a fortnightly salary, they earn a little money every day or every week. Through their earnings they feed and manage family livelihoods. Savings clubs recognise rural women's earning power and help assist them to save little by little and watch their money grow”.
Dr Alice Pollard is an advocate for women’s financial independence and security in the Solomon Islands. She is best recognised for her work in building the capacity of rural women and promoting the “Savings Clubs” concept since 2006.
A former Director of the Ministry of Women, Children and Family Affairs, she co-founded a rural-based women’s organisation in 1999 that runs a savings and loans club for its members.
The West ‘Are’Are Rokotanikeni Association (WARA) works to empower and equip its members with the skills and knowledge to make better decisions on issues that affect their lives and those of their families and communities. WARA promotes self-reliance and rural economic empowerment for its 1,000 plus members.
Today, there are a total of 13 savings clubs in the country with around 3500 members in total and savings of just under SBD3 million in July 2017.
One of few Solomon Islands women with a PhD, Dr Pollard has contributed extensively to research on various social issues and leadership in Solomon Islands. She has a deep understanding of the impact of gender, development and culture on agriculture and food security, leadership, community development and gender.
Dr Pollard was a key figure in the Women for Peace movement at the height of the Solomons’ civil conflict and has served as a member of various boards and committees.
She was a key figure in the Women for Peace movement at the height of the Solomons’ civil conflict, a member of various boards and committees, Coordinator of Women in Government Strategic Programme (2008 -2010), Chairperson of the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education Council (2009 -2011), former chair of the University of the South Pacific Solomon Islands Campus Advisory Committee, current chair of the Solomon Islands Democratic Party and Director of Leadership development program.
In 2016, Dr Pollard was awarded the Woman of Courage Award by United States Secretary of State, for her exceptional courage and leadership throughout her 15 year tenure assisting the government of Solomon Islands on gender, social and economic issues, leadership, community development, and governance.