In August, the team at Sista managed to keep the ball rolling and the momentum going with all the different projects and events going on!

This month we welcomed Sarah Freeman from Gate Minds! Sarah is currently working with us as the teams Program Support Manager to support and monitor Sista’s projects and ensure implementation is going smoothly. She will be working closely with the communications and project team over the next two months. Thank you for joining the team Sarah, we hope you enjoy working with us during these two months!

Later, the finance team organised a lunch meal from Ezi Eatz for the whole team to celebrate the end of the financial year! Yasmine went through the ongoing projects and upcoming projects to be implemented before the end of this year so that Sarah could familiarise herself with the Sista projects, and the rest of the team understood what the rest of the year would look like.

Sista’s Executive Director, Yasmine Bjornum, took a well-deserved break this month to spend time with her close family and friends. This meant the team had to put on their leadership hats and carry out their responsibilities and tasks independently – but of course, with support from each other.

We also welcomed a wonderful young woman from the Young Women’s Leadership Program, as an intern! She will be working with us for a total of 20 days, and we are truly looking forward to supporting her learn and grow in this space.

On our social media platforms, we acknowledged and celebrated World Breast Feeding week from 1st – 7th August, International Youth Day on 12th August, Assumption Day on 15th August and World Humanitarian Day on 19th August! And we shared a few reels on our platforms from the Melanesian Sisterhood Creed workshop and the Young Leaders workshop.

Continue reading to see what we got up to this month!


Mere Tari Sovick – Sista Gat Style, Vanuatu Daily Post

 In August we are celebrating the founder and Executive Director of Melanesian Women Today, Mere Tari Sovick!

Mere’s warm and genuine personality contributes to the amazing milestones she has achieved so far! She hails from the island of Pentecost but now lives in the United States of America with her husband and four children.

Being the first Ni-Vanuatu woman to earn a doctorate in the United States of America, Mere shows us that with the right support and mindset, you can achieve anything you put your heart into.

Quite often she reminds herself about the importance of understanding why a person speaks, acts, and feels the way they do. She believes that once everyone learns to understand this aspect, then people will know how to work with each other better.

“Learning about yourself as you grow and understanding what that means for you in every stage of your life is important.” – Mere Tari Sovick

 #SistaGatStyle #WomanPentecost #Mother #Smart #Beautiful #Kind #Passionate #Empowering #MelanesianWomenToday

Young Women’s Leadership Program: Internship Placement – CARE

Sista facilitated the internship placement for the Young Womens Leadership Program (YWLP) participants this year. Their internships began on the 21st of August 2023 and will end on the 15th of September 2023.

Prior to this, the team created a YWLP internship Manual to assist this part of the program and the participants. The list of the interested interns were provided by the Gender Equality  Together (GET) team at Care to assign them with their placements.

A big thank you to Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) for supporting Sista with the list of the businesses as potential placements for the interns.

Sarah Freeman, who has joined the team as a support Program Manager, provided great support as she followed up with the potential organisations to confirm whether they were still keen on welcoming the participants as interns.

On the 18th of August 2023, the Project Coordinator ran an induction with the YWLP interns about the purpose of the internship. They reviewed and signed the terms of reference and Sista policies before they officially started their internship placements.

We are excited for these young working women and look forward to hearing about the skills and knowledge they have acquired over the last month.

Nation Builders II: Celebrating Women in the Private Sector – Balance of Power

This month, the project team continued interviewing, photographing, writing and editing stories of selected Nation Builders Booklet II candidates.

It has been challenging scheduling interviews as some of these women are very busy and the team has to schedule interviews and photographs according to their availability. Additionally, identifying photographers on outer islands to support by capturing some of these women, is another challenge in itself and one we are still facing.

With that being said, we are hopeful that we will be able to capture all the women selected for this booklet and look forward to the official launch in early October.


Sikmun Storian supported by Ambassade de France

The collection of the sikmun storian is still in progress as we had to collect 25 stories altogether. We have 22 stories in place and yet to have another 3 in which we hope to complete by the beginning of September. The booklet’s design is also in progress while collecting and editing the stories.


Strong Mama Program supported by FRIDA Fund

 This month, the Communications team received all the recipes and self-care tips from the Strong Mama Program participants. They are currently working on designing the booklet, which should be completed before the end of September!


Planning and Preparations: PAR (Participatory Action Research) and IEC (Information Education Communication) materials – CARE

“Laef Blong Mi, Vois Blong Mi” is an Australian government funded project under the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Program’s Pacific Girl initiative. The three-year project (2019 – 2022) is implemented by CARE Vanuatu and works closely with partners including the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) and Sista, and is implemented through secondary schools in Tafea province.

The goal of this project was to make sure that Adolescent girls (aged 12 – 19) in rural and remote areas of Tafea province are more respected and safer in their homes and communities, are better able to exercise their rights and have more equal and increasing opportunities.

So far, the workshops are complete, and the girls also launched an exhibition in Tanna. Now we are in the phase of planning and preparing 3 short films that are all based on the last part of PAR which is to produce IEC Materials. We are currently in the process of planning and preparations.

On the 9th of August the Communication & Advocacy Officer along with the support Program Manager, had a meeting with Markson, who is a local producer in Vanuatu, about 3 short films to be produced by the international day of the girl child on 11th October 2023. Later on the 18th of August, the Comms & Advocacy Officer and Project Coordinator met with a few of the girls who participated in these workshops to get their feedback on the scripts and concepts of the 3 films.

We have finalized the scripts for all 3 films, and we have reached out to Wan Smol Bag for actors. We’re truly excited and cannot wait to see all these films come together!

Spotlight Initiative: Implementation of Phase 2

Sista in partnership with the Human Capacity Development International (HCDI), have started work on the implementation of the second phase of the Spotlight initiative.

The first phase of this initiative produced the ‘Rod bong Jenis’ booklet and the ‘Stanap strong’ website that collates resources on Gender Based violence (GBV). These resources have been collected and compiled from different organisations that have produced resources addressing GBV and brings these diverse resources together on the Stanap strong platform.

Phase two of this initiative will focus on collaborating with key stakeholders to consolidate available resources for women facing GBV, develop a set guideline and or support materials for community leaders and further expand, consolidate and publicise the material available on the Stanap Strong Website.

This month Sista met with their partner on this project, HCDI, and drafted out a plan of immediate actions to be carried out towards this initiative. Letters to organisations of which consultations are being sought have been drafted, finalized and delivered. Currently follow ups are being carried out with these organizations in order to start scheduling consultations.

Other News

Vanuatu Association of NGO’s (VANGO) Annual Meeting
On Wednesday 2nd of August, Sista’s Executive director and Finance & HR Manager attended the Vango Annual General Meeting held at the Grand Hotel. Sista has officially registered as a member of VANGO in July this year – yay! The administrative matters that have been discussed during the meeting were: the approval of Constitution Amendments, the approval of a Five-Year Strategy plan and the approval of Institutional Policy and Procedures.


Collaboration with Department of Women’s Affairs
The Executive Director of Sista was grateful to be invited to a Breakfast Storian hosted by Department of Women’s Affairs (DWA) on August 4th 2023. It was a joy to share, pray and connect with women leaders and commit to working together for the betterment of our beloved Vanuatu!

Sista is also honored to be appointed on the Women in Leadership and Political Participation Technical Working Group on August 30th and assist with monitoring and reporting of the National Gender Equality Policy’s Strategic Area 3 – Advancing Women’s Leadership and Political Pariticipation. We look forward to supporting DWA to coordinate sector efforts in this strategic area, as well as all future meaningful collaborations, including the partnership with the Stanap Strong website that consolidates GBV resources.

Thank you to the national women’s machinery for your trust, we are with you!


National Youth Day Celebration with Vanuatu National Youth Council (VNYC)

 On the 11th of August the Vanuatu National Youth Council with the Ministry of Youth and Sports celebrated the National Youth Day, by inviting Sista and other organizations to Teouma for the launching of ‘Green skills for youth’. This launch was to recognize the youth’s contribution to society and understand their challenges.  By implementing the plot of land that was given to the National Youth Council, young people can start contributing more by planting crops and harvesting to export and gain some income.

Sista values this initiative, as it’s seen as a chance for young people to develop a powerful mindset in helping the environment and the economy of this country in the future by focusing on the natural resources.

Green skills are “knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society”.


United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Civil Society Organisation (CSO) workshop

 UNDP invited Sista and other Civil Society organisations or Community based organisations to an event aimed at strengthening efforts against gender-based violence and fostering strategic alliances on 28th and 29th August 2023.

UNDP collaborated with six local Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), rendering vital grant support. This backing has fuelled projects dedicated to promoting gender parity and combating Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).

Sista, in partnership with HCDI, are among the organisations backed by UNDP’s Spotlight initiative  to create resources for GBV. These are ‘Road to change ‘and the Stanap strong Website, where GBV resources from different organisations for different purposes are collated.

This two-day event allowed these different organisations to network, exchange insights, knowledge, and resources, share challenges they face and offer solutions on how to address these pressing issues as a collective to enhance impact and improve the work of CSOs and CBOs.

Civil Society Organization (CSO) Roundtable with UN Women

The Roundtable event is part of the wider programmer of United Nations (UN) Women’s Executive Board official visit to Vanuatu and aims to increase understanding and awareness of the specific challenges faced by women and girls in the context of climate change and disasters in Vanuatu.

On 18th August 2023, this event was an opportunity to share knowledge and explore innovative approaches for gender responsive and inclusive climate and disaster risk resilience at the community level, and recognize leadership and the role of women as agents of change in climate and disaster resilience and recovery efforts. A key focus of the discussions was the national policies on gender and climate change and disaster risk reduction.

The Sista Project Coordinator attended the event on behalf of Sista. This event was also an opportunity for the CSO’s that receive support from the UN Women to implement a project related to climate change and disasters to come together and shared their work. There were a lot of presentations, and it was clear that the attendees enjoyed listening to the panel discussions coordinated by the director of Department of Women’s Affairs (DWA). The four organisations that shared their work were Care, World Vision, Vanwoods and Silae Vanua.


Wollongong University Visit

And finally, we ended the month we a lovely visit from a group of students from Wollongong University. They came in to learn more about the work we do here at Sista, and the impacts we have made so far in our journey. Tankio tumas olgeta (thank you everyone) for spending the afternoon with the team!