Participants of the YWLP cycle five with staff members from the Australian High Commission in Vanuatu, New Zealand High Commission in Vanuatu and CARE staff members at the opening in Port Vila

The fifth cycle of CARE’s Young Women’s Leadership Program (YWLP) in Vanuatu began this week in Port Vila with thirty participants—twenty in Port Vila and ten in TAFEA Province.

YWLP is part of the Gender Equality Together Yumi Wan Nomo – Bildimap Ol Sista project (2022-2025) which aims to strengthen the collective leadership, capacity and coordination of gender equality advocates in Vanuatu.

The Australian First Secretary for Development, Stephanie Kimber, congratulated each participant who was accepted into this cycle of the program during the event’s inauguration. Ms Kimber emphasised that the Australian Government is delighted to support the project, which has included four previous YWLP cycles and more than 120 young women graduates.

The participants, according to Ms. Kimber, represent Vanuatu’s upcoming generation of female leaders. Everyone can be a leader, she told participants, and leadership doesn’t have entail being in charge.

Country Director for CARE in Vanuatu, Bridgette Thorold, shared that this is one of CARE’s flagship projects, one of which the organisation is proudest because it can be locally led and is continuing to evolve in exciting ways, including through CARE’s partnership with Sista. Thorold shared that all participants in the Young Women Leadership Program’s past cycles have improved their knowledge, skills and confidence as a result of the program.

New Zealand High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Nicola Simmonds, encouraged the young women leaders to develop their ability to draw inspiration from others’ differences, to increase their knowledge, to have the bravery to do what is right, and to have honor and respect for others.

Sista Executive Director, Yasmine Bjornum, urged the participants to get the most out of the program, use it to discover their own values and grow into leaders, be self-assured, and ask lots of questions.

The YWLP runs for approximately six months and includes a series of workshops, internships, self-reflective and advocacy activities and mentoring; culminating in a final graduation later in 2023.