August has been a challenging but wonderful month full of learning and growth.  With the Executive Director (ED) taking leave and outstanding days in lieu, the Program and Finance Manager (PFM) Irene Abbock has been Acting Executive Director in her absence. Stepping up into her leadership, the other team members have also leveled up in their responsibilities and successfully implemented projects and handled operations despite being short staffed. These challenges only serve to strengthen our internal communications, planning, critical thinking skills and teamwork. 

The highlights for this month was rolling out the second phase of the Strong Mama program and releasing our investigative articles on the dismantling of the Ministry of Justice and Community Services. What we are really looking forward to in the coming month is recruiting a Communications and Advocacy Coordinator! If this could be you, please see the Expression Of Interest below! 

We would like to thank our partners especially CARE and We Rise Coalition for their ongoing support in organizational strengthening, and to Katherine Bowden for her mentorship and contributions to Sista the past few months. We also want to thank the Vanuatu Daily Post for strengthening our partnership with learning and dialogue, and we farewell Pete Stadley who has stood in solidarity with Sista in his tenure at Daily Post. We wish you all the best in your adventure ahead. 

Now with only 4 months left until the end of the year, we are gearing up for a wonderful finish to 2022 and continue to use any challenges as building blocks to support the women’s movement in Vanuatu. Let’s go! 


Sista has an amazing opportunity to bring on a Communications and Advocacy Coordinator!


The successful applicant will be responsible for oversight, planning and delivery of all communication work within Sista, with a key focus on advocacy. Communication work is critical to help tell the story of Sista’s programs and get important messages out to communities, as well as to advocate for positive change!

Join us and be part of a movement that centers communications, arts and media for advocacy, empowerment and awareness raising to progress gender equality in Vanuatu. 

Applications close 9th September 2022. 

Read the full Role Description and Apply Here



Sista Gat Style – Life & Style Magazine, Vanuatu Daily Post 


This month we welcome and celebrate Jessica who originates from Santo – Vanuatu’s largest Island and currently resides at Mele Village with her parents. A mother of a two-year-old daughter who is independent, confident and mentally strong, Jessica feels blessed to be a woman and encourages other women to embrace the beauty and power of womanhood. 

Jessica has her own sewing business that she operates from her house which generates income for her and her little family. She started taking orders from her clients when she was 18 years old. Her sewing business is already a testimony of her living her dreams but she continues to manifest her vision further with the hope of one day setting up her own  clothing boutique shop. 

Jessica is happy to announce that she is available to take orders. Check out all her designs on her Facebook page Sew Soul and you can also contact her on 5406392 to directly place your orders. 

#SistaGatStyle #Designer&Model #ProudBeingaWoman #GelSanto


Relaunching of ‘The Round Table’ podcast, PACMAS and We Rise Coalition


Sista’s excited about relaunching the episodes of The Round Table podcast starting from the end of July until this month. The podcast was made possible with the support of We Rise Coalition and PACMAS. Check out the Sista Facebook page to listen to each of the episodes HERE. Sista is looking forward to presenting to you the  new hosts and new episodes later this year. 


Strong Mama Retreat, FRIDA FUND, and Single Mama Data Collection, supported by Stephanie Mahukaugust-newsletter-2022

On 27/08 – 28/08, Sista held a retreat at Le Life Resort with single mothers from North Efate that saw them attend a series of workshops including weaving, jewelry making, cooking, tie dying and yoga.

The workshops are designed to take the single mothers on an empowerment journey and build their power within (confidence and knowledge) and power with (solidarity with each other).

The second cycle of the ‘Strong Mama’ program is supported by the FRIDA FUND and is a collaboration between Sista and Penpena Mouri.


During this retreat, we also piloted our first survey to understand the needs of single mothers during disasters (including during COVID-19) and to gather data on their lives in order to better feed into response and recovery. Despite being one of the most vulnerable groups in society, there is very little data on the lives of single mothers and the specific challenges they face. Without the data, it makes it difficult to access services, in-kind support or otherwise. We would like to thank Stephanie Mahuk for supporting the data collection component and look forward to collecting more information on single mothers in the months to come!

#FridaFund #StrongWomenSupportingStrongMamas#StrongMama #SingleMothersStandTogether


The Dismantling of the Ministry of Justice and Community Services – Call to encourage public dialogue and promote transparency in government decision-making

Sista has conducted an investigation into a set of interrelated government decisions that they identified as crucial to the future of Vanuatu. The purpose of the investigation is to promote clarity and transparency in government decision-making, and to encourage open and free public dialogue on key issues that affect us all as citizens.

It began in late 2021 and included a review of news articles, public records, and relevant legislation, and extensive interviews with civil society members, legal specialists, and current and former government employees, most of whom wish to remain anonymous. Even though many people are afraid to speak up publicly when they see wrongdoing – and those that do may face repercussions such as termination from employment, censoring or prosecution- we are grateful for those who did speak up.

With these articles, we hope to provide a more complete collective understanding of the issues at hand and also remind everyone that our democracy cannot survive without public dialogue or government accountability. 

VANGO and Transparency International Vanuatu have expressed their support to stand in solidarity with Sista to conduct this investigation.

The first article provides a background into the proposal to dismantle the current Ministry of Justice and to replace it with a Ministry of Fisheries, Oceans and Maritime Affairs. It discusses the rationale provided by the Government for the proposal, and explores alternative options. 

The second article focuses on the extent to which proper legal process was followed in the proposed restructuring of the Ministries, something that was questioned in Court decisions and the government’s subsequent withdrawal of the proposal.

The third article focuses on the termination of Ms. Dorosday Kenneth Watson as the Director General of Justice and Social Welfare, a termination that raised questions about due process, proper consultation and gender equality, and which is still in Court today. 

Finally, the fourth article which will be released soon, focuses on the implications of the possible dismantling of the Ministry of Justice for the future of Vanuatu. As a Ministry, it not only houses a large number of agencies within the justice system, it also provides key support services for ensuring human rights and equality.


Graduation of Young Women’s Leadership Program Cycle 4, CARE Vanuatu 


On the 11th August we saw 49 participants of the fourth cycle of the Young Women’s Leadership Program (YWLP) graduate in the presence of family and friends. Traveling from across EFATE and TAFEA province, the YWLP participants prepared the event themselves with logistics, decoration, writing and delivering speeches and designing their own uniforms . In the lead up to the graduation, the YWLP participants also attended a learning event, which saw them visiting organizations working in the gender space, and a forum where business women gave inspirational talks through the lens of COVID19. The young women leaders also shared their recommendations to strengthen the next cycle in an internal workshop. Sista is looking forward to building on these lessons learnt in phase 5 of the Young Women’s Leadership Program and we thank CARE for this journey on our first joint implementation of the Young Women’s Leadership Program. Mo tu, tank yu tumas bigwan long Australian government blong sapot long olgeta.  We look forward to more years of collaboration with CARE Vanuatu to progress gender equality and women’s leadership in the years to come! 

The Young Women’s Leadership Program (YWLP) is funded with the generous support of the Australian Government. It is a program for emerging leaders that builds leadership skills through workshops, small group action projects, internships, connection with experienced leaders and a growing network of passionate young women working towards gender equality.


Coming Soon

Development of YWLP Inspirational Journal, CARE Vanuatu

The Communications team has been collaborating with the CARE squad to develop a journal in the hope it could be a practical tool for the upcoming cohort of the Young Women’s Leadership Program. We hope they can use it for reflection and contemplation in their journey of developing and strengthening their leadership skills during the program and after they have graduated. 

As usual, this process of collaboration with the CARE team is helpful for the Sista team to develop their capacity in critical thinking, working as a team and our partners, as well as general capacity building. We can’t wait to share the end result of the booklet


The Round Table Podcast, PACMAS and We Rise Coalition

We got something coming! We learnt a lot with our pilot podcast and are taking those lessons learnt into the next phase. Stay tuned….


Women in Media, PACMAS 

We are preparing to conduct a survey and hold a forum for women in media in coming months through a regional project with PACMAS. Right now we are preparing a desk review and reviewing methodologies so we can understand the challenges that women in media face and identify opportunities for the future. 


3rd Pacific Feminist Forum, We Rise Coalition

The Pacific Feminist Forum (PFF) is a transformative space for Pacific feminists to reflect on key issues paramount to gender equality and women’s human rights. It is intended to be a regional convening for the feminist movement to come together and accelerate regional movement building and strategies, but due to COVID 19 restrictions, the 3rd PFF will be held across 16 countries nationally with in-country forums. 

Sista is undergoing preparations and developing a budget to prepare a national forum led by a working group represented by various organizations within the movement, in order to mobilize diverse women to share knowledge and experiences, celebrate achievements and strategize for collective action to achieve women’s human rights in Vanuatu.


Other News

Organizational strengthening

As an emerging organization, the strengthening of our systems is an ongoing activity that takes up quite a bulk of the workload. Sista is thankful that we have partners that understand the need to provide organizational strengthening and support to sustain ourselves. Since becoming a member of the We Rise Coalition (WRC), we have continuously worked with the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA) finance team to assist us in WRC finance reporting and WRC has provided budget lines for organizational strengthening. Through their support, Katherine Bowden from Lewis Enterprise has been supporting the development and strengthening of Sista’s Communications department while CARE is supporting Carmen Myer and internal HR and Finance teams to contribute to the development of Sista’s HR system. 

For the sustainability of small women’s organizations, a strong foundation is critical. Thank you to our partners who support our organizational strengthening – because of you, we can do meaningful work! 


Sista Team Visitation to Chief Motarilavoa Hilda Lini


On Wednesday 3rd, Sista’s Acting ED and Sista Project Officer Rosina Kaimbang visited chief Motoralivoa Hilda Lini at her residence on behalf of the Sista team to acknowledge her continuous contribution to the movement. During this visitation they presented a token of gifts to her from merchandise produced during this year’s International Women’s Day – Break the Bias Campaign, supported by the We Rise Coalition, as well as other merchandise from our ‘Rod Blong Jenis’ campaign supported by the Spotlight Initiative. 

Chief Motoralivoa Hilda is originating from the Island of Pentecost, Hilda Lini is currently one of the few female Paramount Chiefs in Vanuatu. She was the first female MP ever elected in Parliament and worked closely with her late brother Father Walter Lini during the Liberation Movement and together they served the parliament from 1987 until 1999. Hilda Lini as one of Vanuatu’s foremothers has always been a freedom fighter and an advocate of diverse issues including women’s rights. Hilda Lini  played a role in setting up the Pacific’s first ever woman-led party, the Leleon Vanua Party in 2018 with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of women in politics. 

Sista has the privilege of quoting one of Chief Motoralivoa Hilda Lini’s speeches as a gentle reminder to Ni Vanuatu citizens, especially after gaining our country’s 42nd Independence Anniversary stating; “We fought for Vanuatu to become a democracy and if we want to make democracy a reality, then we need to include everyone in the decision making, both men and women, Let’s build Vanuatu together.”


UN Team Representative visitation to Sista Office

Left to right is; Cristina Comunian- Spotlight Initiative Communications Officer, Jurgita Sereikaite- Spotlight Initiative Programme Coordinator, Irene Abbock- Sista Program & Finance Manager and Dr Astrid Kersten- ED of Human Capacity Development International.

Friday 5th August, the UN representatives; Cristina and Jurgita visited Dr. Astrid and Sista Team at the Sista Office. During their short visit, Irene-Sista’s PFM presented a bag of gifts to each including Dr. Astrid, the gifts given are from a collection of Journey to Change Merchandise. During the visitation, Dr. Astrid and Sista PFM flagged the challenges the Sista Team in collaboration with HCDI has endured during the implementation of the Spotlight Initiative Project activities, and to which Jurgita and Cristina have acknowledged and confirmed that they will further discuss with the UN Regional Headquarters. Furthermore, the UN representatives reassured the team to look out for Pillar 6, the continuous funding cycle of the current Spotlight Initiative. 


Media Networking Event: Strengthening Partnerships to end violence against Women and Children 


On the 3rd of August Sista’s Communications Officer Sharon Nicholls attended the Media Networking Event on strengthening partnerships to end violence against women and children which was held at the Holiday Inn resort. 

The purpose of this event was to strengthen partnerships with different sectors to promote awareness on ‘Ending violence against women and children’, it was an opportunity for journalists and media organizations to connect and understand the aspects of presenting information on an online platform or through media based on violence when it comes to women and Children here in Vanuatu.  

The main guest speaker was the UN Resident Coordinator to Vanuatu, Mr. Sanaka Samarasinha who shared in his opening remarks about how important it is for media organizations to work together to promote awareness on ending violence against women and children. 

It was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Francis Herman the Chief Executive Officer of the Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation.peakers included Gregwar Nimptik, Director General from the Prime Minister’s office, Mrs Tatavola Matas the deputy coordinator of the Vanuatu women’s center, Simaldaresa Saraken as acting director from the department of women’s affairs, Mr. Donald James the commissioner of the Vanuatu Police Force, the EU Ambassador in Vanuatu Sujiro seams, New Zealand high commissioner in Vanuatu Niccola Simmonds and the Australian high commissioner Heidi Bootle. 

They all spoke about the impact that Covid 19 has had on the issue of violence against women and children on how that can be seen through the media in Vanuatu. They shared from their experiences of how to work together with stakeholders and other media organizations including donor communities on raising awareness on violence against women and children.

One take away from this event was the emphasis on strengthening media content, projects and initiatives on how to effectively promote awareness on violence against women and children. As Vanuatu is currently a developing country there is still more work that needs to be done in ending violence against women and children through the media and that would require all media network and organizations to work together to make this initiative more effective in the society. 

As Mr. Sanaka Samarasinha mentioned “If we really want to change things it’s going to take time” 

As for Sista this can be seen as an opportunity to engage more in projects and initiatives with other organizations to improve what can be done in the media as well as to continue to promote awareness on violence against women and children in the urban and rural areas around Vanuatu. 

Looking at the way forward, this media networking event has shown the importance of media officers and journalists playing an important role in the society to promote and amplify more awareness on violence against women and children during this covid-19 pandemic. By having the support of other media organizations and stakeholders through the media as a powerful platform, as that could enhance the content creation, projects, and initiatives that the vanuatu journalists and media organizations are implementing on ending violence against women and children in the near future. 


VANGO – CSO Dialogue to draft the CSO Statement for the Finance Economic Ministerial Meeting

PIANGO representatives’ visitation to Vanuatu to help consult the statement to be presented

Sista’s Acting ED Irene attended the CSO Dialogue to draft the CSO Statement for the Finance Economic Ministerial Meeting which happened on Friday 12th the next day. Sista contributed by highlighting the need for proper access to RMNCAH for mothers and children as per the Ministry of Health’s number one key policy area for RMNCAH is Safe Motherhood, antenatal, perinatal, postpartum, and newborn care.


Department of Women’s Affairs Vanuatu Ending Violence Against Women and Girls Strategic Dialogue 


The PFM and Acting ED attended this dialogue which saw contributions from government, CSO’s , INGO’s, Business sectors, and UN representatives. This demonstrated an indication that it takes a collective contribution to this movement, from the grassroots level to the high diplomatic settings. The panel discussion made with panelists from MoJSC, VWC, Malvatumauri, and a Youth representative concludes that we need to engage more youths and particularly men and boys towards EVAW to maximize the advocacy goals and key actions. 


UNFPA Vanuatu – Women and Young People with Disabilities in Fiji, Samoa, and Vanuatu

An estimated 17 percent of Pacific Island people have a disability, out of which, approximately 193,000 are young people 15–24 years old. Approximately 58,000 young people have a disability that substantially impacts their lives. Persons with disabilities experience severe discrimination when it comes to their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and yet SRHR information and services are generally inaccessible to them.1,2

Women and girls with disabilities also experience increased levels of physical and sexual violence compared to their peers without disabilities and require gender-based violence services, yet also face barriers to accessing and receiving services.

Sista’s PFM and Acting Executive Director, Ms Irene Abbock attended the event. As part of the Transformative Agenda for Women, Adolescents and Youth in the

Pacific, the United Nations Population Fund – Pacific Sub-Regional Office (UNFPA Pacific), Women Enabled International (WEI) and the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF)–with the support of organizations of persons with disabilities from the region–conducted needs assessment research to identify the barriers preventing women and young people with disabilities living in Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu from fully realizing their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and their rights to legal capacity and to be free of gender-based violence (GBV). Research findings and priority recommendations for the States to eradicate those barriers and advance the fundamental rights of women and young people with disabilities are summarized in three country-specific reports to be presented during the webinar.