The Vanuatu Daily Post is featuring a series of interviews in anticipation of International Women’s Day (IWD), highlighting women from diverse backgrounds and sharing their unique journeys. Today’s feature spotlights Mrs. Naomi Tousavi William, a 60-year-old community woman leader from the Island of Lelepa.

Mrs. William runs her own land transport business, managing it independently and employing two drivers whom she holds monthly meetings with.

Her professional journey began as a Telephone Operator employed by the Efate Local Government Council from 1984 to 1993. Concurrently, from 1984 to 1995, she served as the Manager of Natapau Cooperative on Lelepa Island.

Her community leadership roles include being the Chairlady of Amaro Primary School (2003-2005), Secretary of Lelepa Councils of Chiefs (2006-2008), and Treasurer (2008-2009).

In 2009-2010, she was elected Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Union (combined) President for Lelepa, Mangaliliu, and Tanoliu. She also chaired the Island’s Water Project from 2010 to 2017, successfully completing it with the community now having access to water in their homes.

Despite facing challenges, including the loss of her husband, former Member of Parliament of Efate Rural Constituency Gillion William, in January 2023, Mrs. William remains a strong woman.

Just five days after her husband’s passing, she was inducted as a small chief under the paramount chief of Lelepa Island, taking the name Tukarao Lolowia.

Mrs. William emphasises the importance of women’s advice, commitment, and dedication in safeguarding the community and nation.

Her advice to Vanuatu women is to have confidence, regardless of their educational background, and to commit fully to community work for recognition and growth.

She acknowledges the hard work of women leaders and stresses the need for recognition on IWD.

The persevering community leader pays tribute to women leaders who passed away in 2023 and 2024. She concludes with a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: “A woman is like a tea bag, you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.”

Mrs. William, a mother of four and grandmother of nine, successfully manages both her family and business. Her children are managing their own lives, and she provides support as needed.