As part of our ongoing tribute to International Women’s Day, the Vanuatu Daily Post proudly continues to spotlight remarkable women from diverse backgrounds. Today, we shine a spotlight on Mrs. Merilyn Leona Vanua Temakon, a beacon of strength and resilience.

At 62 years old, soon to turn 63, Mrs. Temakon hails from the picturesque Loltong village in North Pentecost. Born to Richard and Lolowia Leona, having deep roots in her community. Mrs. Temakon is married and a proud mother of four children—two boys and two girls.

Mrs. Temakon’s educational journey took her from Nazareth School in Pentecost to the University of Otago in New Zealand and later the University of Papua New Guinea. Her pursuit of knowledge culminated in a Masters in Intellectual Property Law from University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

Mrs. Temakon currently serves as a law lecturer at the University of the South Pacific (USP) Emalus Campus. With expertise in Legislation and Intellectual Property, she imparts knowledge to both first-year and final-year law students, and this year marks her impressive sixth year at the university.

Instrumental in establishing the Vanuatu Intellectual Property Office (VanIPO) in 2012, Mrs. Temakon played a key role in navigating Vanuatu’s entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Serving as the sole officer initially, she diligently expanded VanIPO’s team over the years, fostering the legal framework for intellectual property in the country.

Mrs. Temakon’s advocacy extends beyond intellectual property; she championed fair treatment for civil servants and played a crucial role in passing legislation for women’s protection, notably the Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) when she was the president of the Vanuatu National Council of Women (VNCW) in 1995.

Mrs. Temakon was also part of a small lobby group, alongside the late Mr. William Edgel from Pentecost and the late Mr. Douglas Malosu from Nguna Island. Together, they advocated for the government to facilitate opportunities for locals to work overseas in apple picking now commonly known as RSE. Last year, she was honoured with a medal by President Nikenike Vurobaravu, alongside her esteemed counterparts, in recognition of their efforts in this.

A major hurdle Mrs. Temakon encountered was persistent opposition, particularly when advocating for opportunities for locals to work overseas. She relayed that despite her efforts, she faced opposition, including resistance from within her own family. Notably, she was derogatorily nicknamed “apple” by dissenters, a label she bore with resilience as a symbol of her dedication to the cause.

Despite facing opposition, both externally and within her own circles, Mrs. Temakon persevered. Her commitment to advocating for others remained unwavering, even amidst personal challenges such as marital strife.

With eyes set on the future, Mrs. Temakon intends to contest the 2026 general election, driven by her belief in gender equality in parliamentary representation. She emphasises that being a Member of Parliament is a service to the people, requiring courage and a genuine commitment to public welfare.

Mrs. Temakon’s journey is a testament to faith and perseverance. She encourages others to trust in their faith and remain steadfast in their pursuits, acknowledging the guiding hand of God in her own achievements.

As we celebrate Mrs. Temakon’s determined spirit, her story inspires us to recognise and uplift the resilience of women worldwide.