sharman-stone-vanuatuTuesday 8 August 2017 (Vanuatu) – Women from Silae Vanua and Marobe Tanvasoko Market Vendor Associations (MVA) welcomed Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, Dr Sharman Stone, as she unveiled new office equipment for the Silae Vanua MVA.

The Silae Vanua MVA’s new office equipment is funded by the Australian High Commission’s Direct Aid Program in Vanuatu. The MVA applied for the funds – and is receiving training to use the office equipment – thanks to assistance from UN Women’s Markets for Change team, principally funded by the Australian Government.

Dr Sharman Stone, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, used the visit on Wednesday 2 August “to congratulate all the women here, their communities and UN Women for this Markets for Change program.”

“Australia is very pleased to provide the women with this office equipment. It is the 21st century, we just have to use new technology,” Dr Stone said.

“Using computers, printers and scanners, is the way the world works now and it is wonderful to see the ladies training to use this equipment,” said Dr Stone.

“I think it is a great way to be partners, sisters helping sisters,” said Dr Stone.
sharman-stone-vanuatuVanuatu Country Programme Coordinator for UN Women, Betty Zinner-Toa, said “for most of the women market vendors, this was their first time to meet and talk with one of Australia’s woman leaders who works to promote and advocate for gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.”

“We have the same passion here in Vanuatu; to promote and advocate for gender equality and especially to work with our women market vendors through UN Women’s Markets for Change project to improve women’s economic empowerment.”

In her message to the women market vendors, Dr Stone said that selling products in the market was important work and women needed to be part of marketplace decision making and have access to quality locations with toilets, shelter from rain, and accommodation for those coming from the islands.

“Markets are so important. They tend to become a woman’s world for work and income,” said Dr Stone.

“Australia wants to support women’s markets in the Pacific as much as possible and want to see women running these markets,” said Dr Stone.

“Women have the same ability and capacity to stand beside men and say we also have solutions,” said Dr Stone, adding that “We need to be partners with our men.”

Several market vendors praised the Ambassador’s visit.

“This is my first time to meet a woman like her who can come and give the heart of her country to the women of Vanuatu,” remarked 63-year-old Ednar Kalsar of Eton village. “As a member of the association, I really appreciate what the Ambassador presented today.”

“I am really happy to meet the Ambassador of Women and Girls, to hear her message, our calling as women,” said Caroline Erson from North Efate.

“The Ambassador asked me about my market. I told her about the challenges I am facing at the market,” said Lucsil Carlot from North Efate.

UN Women’s Markets for Change (M4C) project is a six-year, multi-country initiative that aims to ensure marketplaces in rural and urban areas of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.  A UN Women project, M4C is principally funded by the Australian Government.