Introduction  

Elsie: Halo olgeta, I’m Elsie, welcome to the RoundTable Podcast. We’ve created this space for Ni-Vanuatu women to speak freely on issues affecting us today. Let’s navigate life in the islands together. Join me as I speak to a new guest every episode and ask the questions you’ve always wanted to ask. Ale yumi storian. This project is made possible with the support of the WeRise Coalition and PECMAS. 

TRANSLATIONS: Hello everyone, I’m Elsie, welcome to the RoundTable Podcast. We’ve created this space for Ni-Vanuatu women to speak freely on issues affecting us today. Let’s navigate life in the islands together. Join me as I speak to a new guest every episode and ask the questions you’ve always wanted to ask. Let’s discuss. This project is made possible with the support of the WeRise Coalition and PECMAS. 

 

Interview Introduction 

Tides are changing for the world and that means, tides are changing here in Vanuatu as well. That also means that the roles of women and their capacities are being recognized more as we are becoming more aware of women and the important role that they play in our communities. However, there are still some areas that we are tackling. One of these areas is ‘Economic Empowerment’. Now am sure you’ve heard of this before, but what does it truly mean to be Economically Empowered and why is it so important?  

On this episode we explore the different levels of Economic Empowerment, and how it can impact different aspects of our lives as women living in Vanuatu. Our guest today is Jemima Nalo. Jemima graduated this year in May with the Bachelor of Science. Congrats again Jemima, and she currently works at World Vision Vanuatu under the Urban Climate Resilience Project which is under the Climate Resilience and Livelihood Portfolio. The portfolio’s aim is to support the most vulnerable members in the community like women and young girls to understand the impact of climate change and adapt to these changes. This is done through savings groups, how to create healthy meals and most importantly how to be resilient at times of natural disasters. One of the key activities under this project is the Inclusive Savings for Transformation. A savings group setup in numerous communities around Port Vila to empower people in the community especially women to save money. It is a great initiative and Jemima has been helping World Vision roll out this key activity for the last three years. Thanks so much for joining me at the RoundTable Jemima.  

 

Jemima: Thank you, Elsie, for having me. 

 

Elsie: So, there was a recent case study of Vanuatu done by Australian Aid where it showed in 2011 that 61% of women were part of the Labor force. However, only 33% were part of the formal working sector. Now in the report it was also identify that the majority of women worked in Agriculture and had their own like small businesses setup in the communities. Now there’s a lot of efforts being made towards economic empowerment of women across all sectors. And you know you’ve been in you line of work for a while, you’ve had heaps of experience of Economic Empowerment in our communities across Vanuatu. So, I wanna know, you know what does economic empowerment mean to you in the work that you do? 

 

Jemima: Thank you, Elsie. So, lo mi Economic Empowerement hemi minim se yu kivim bak  opojuniti ia, yu kivim bak kontrol ia, yu kivim bak pawa ia i ko lo, sapos yumi tokabaot individual, yu kivim i kobak lo individual, sapos yumi tokbaot target grup, yu kivim bak pawa, the control, that opportunity i kobak lo target grup ia blo oli save gro financially. Not just maximizing their profit beh oli economically empowered in all things. Lo wan holistic approach. Oli save mekem wan disisens blo olgeta regardem vatu weh oli karem or even we lo profit we oli gainem. Uhm lo fasin olsem hemi mekem se olgeta oli feel se worth mo oli self-identify insaed lo ol komunities blong olgeta. So, to me that is uhm economically empowered. Lo wok we mi mi mekem olsem wan field worker wetem current NGO weh mi stap wetem mifala sapotem tu economic empower lo wan, hemi lo wan holistic approach. So mifala olsem weh yu rightly talem mifala sapotem olgeta blo oli kasem save blo oli saveh sef so that they can be economically empowered. Sapos oli gat sam existing businesses hao nao mifala sapotem olgeta blo oli kasem save blo oli stao gohed blo uhm oli mekem decision blo growem business blong olgeta mo oli feel se oli gat kontrol, oli gat pawa uhm oli gat opportunity ia blo oli save grow mo ownem wanem nao oli gat. Yes, thank you.  

TRANSLATIONS: Thank you, Elsie. So, for me Economic Empowerment means that you give back the opportunity, you give back the control, you give back the power. If we talk about individual, you give it back to the individual, if we talk about target group, you give back the power, the control, that opportunity to the target group so that they can grow financially. Not just maximizing their profit but they are economically empowered in all things in a holistic approach. They can make their own decisions regarding the money they earn or even the profit they gain. Uhm in a way that makes them feel worthy and self-identify within their communities. So, to me that is uhm economically empowered. The work that I do as a field worker with the current NGO that I am with, we support economic empowerment in a holistic way. So, we as you rightly said we support them to gain knowledge so that they can be economically empowered. If they have some existing businesses, how do we support them to gain knowledge to stay ahead of uhm making decisions to grow their businesses and they feel that they have control, they have power uhm they could grow and own what they have. Yes, thank you. 

 

E: That’s great to hear. Mi laekem hao yu talem yu “kimbak that control back to them.” To have that, you know ownership of what they are doing being able to do what they want, what they feel is necessary for themselves and their communities. So, I really like that. So, when you do the work that you do in all the different communities that you’ve been in. What do you find are the impacts of economically empowering women in the communities? 

TRANSLATIONS: That’s great to hear. I like how you said you ‘give back that control to them.’ To have that, you know ownership of what they are doing being able to do what they want, what they feel is necessary for themselves and their communities. So, I really like that. So, when you do the work that you do in all the different communities that you’ve been in. What do you find are the impacts of economically empowering women in the communities? 

 

J: Thank yu. Uhm bai mi talem lo positive impacts blo economically empowering women insaed lo komunitis. Ol men oli classified or categorized as uhm head blong haoshol. But really uhm yu ko insaed long ol haos blo yumi, ol homs blong yumi yu luk mama na I bak bon long plante lo olgeta samting. So, lo ol wok blo yumi taem yumi sta wok wetem ol komunitis taem yu luk wan woman hemi kam economically empowered, mekem plante wealti disisen. Mi talem wealti from men oli lukluk lo wan kaen lens, women oli lukluk long plante difren saed. Yes, blong mekem sua se famli blo hem I stap sef, famli blo hem i gat enaf. Smol bisnis weh hemi gat hemi traem blo keep pushing ko wan step higher. Sipos i no mekem gud naia be hemi wantem mekem gud next taem. So emi jes no stop nomo long ples ia. Jeni blong wan woman blo hemi laek economically empowered hemi no jes happen ovanaet. So, working with World Vision for 3 years taem yumi stap insaed long komuniti yumi luk slowly ol woman oli emi hard lelebet blo oli shakem off ol kaljarol norms blong olgeta. Beh once taem oli empowered yu luk oli yu luk save realisem se no olgeta gat raet blo toktok or even oli gat raet tu blo laek mekem bisnis olsem emi naraman nomo. Wan samting weh mi laekem abaot uhm ol woman taem oli kam economically empowered oli gat wan confidence long olgeta weh hemi kivim olgeta se oli gat pride insaed long olgeta. That’s one really good something, taem oli shakem off kalja blong yumi nogud plante taem kalja blo yumi hemi holem taet yumi blo experiencem plante narafala samting weh save empower mo growem yumi ol woman mo ol gels insaed lo komuniti.  

TRANSLATIONS: Thank you. Uhm I will tell you the positive impacts of economically empowering women in the communities. Men are classified or categorized as uhm head of household. But really uhm you go inside our houses, our homes you see mother is the backbone of many things. So, in our work when we start working with the communities when seeing a woman becomes economically empowered, she makes many wealth decisions. I say wealth because men look at one kind of lens, but women look at many different sides. Yes, to make sure that her family is safe, her family has enough. Small business that she has she tries to keep pushing it one step higher. If she doesn’t do well here, then she wants to do well next time. So, she just doesn’t stop at this place. The journey of a woman to be economically empowered doesn’t just happen overnight. So, working with World Vision for 3 years when we stay in the community, we see slowly women they find it hard a little bit to shake off their cultural norms. But once they are empowered you see they realize that not only men have the right to speak or even they have the right to do business like it is normal. One thing that I like about uhm women when they become economically empowered, they have a confidence in them that gives them pride in themselves. That’s one good thing by shaking off our culture. Because in many cases culture may acts las a barrier that hold us back to experience different things that could empower and keep women and girls to have growth in what they are doing inside their community. 

 

E: That’s a lovely uhm experience we yu save serem wetem mi tete. I think that’s wonderful to hear as well that you can see the impact that’s made uhm when you guys go into this communities and share that knowledge and all these tools and it’s just great to hear that you can see the change in the women in the communities that you work in. So, I think like we mentioned early on the economic empowerment is a term that it’s not as common as you know women’s empowerment or human rights and it’s a concept that we are still working on. So, there was a report done by Vanuatu Rural Development Training Centre Association in 2007, which show that even though female enrolment rates are growing faster than male enrolment rate in secondary education. It was still less likely for women to go onto tertiary education and be awarded government scholarships than the men. So, considering you know this, uhm and considering the access of education for women and girls as well as many other different you know factors in our country context, do you think women in our communities really understand what economic empowerment is and how important it is? 

TRANSLATIONS: That’s a lovely experience that you get to share with me today. I think that’s wonderful to hear as well that you can see the impact that’s made uhm when you guys go into this communities and share that knowledge and all these tools and it’s just great to hear that you can see the change in the women in the communities that you work in. So, I think like we mentioned early on the economic empowerment is a term that it’s not as common as you know women’s empowerment or human rights and it’s a concept that we are still working on. So, there was a report done by Vanuatu Rural Development Training Centre Association in 2007, which show that even though female enrolment rates are growing faster than male enrolment rate in secondary education. It was still less likely for women to go onto tertiary education and be awarded government scholarships than the men. So, considering you know this, uhm and considering the access of education for women and girls as well as many other different you know factors in our country context, do you think women in our communities really understand what economic empowerment is and how important it is? 

 

J: So, my opinion I would say not 100% of that population which is women oli really andastanem wanem ia economic empowerment. From plante long olgeta olsem weh yumi save plante lo olgeta oli involve plante na lo ol informal uhm wok or bisnisis. So, hemia emi wan samting weh hemi stap long taem. Hemi stuck wetem kalja blong yumi blong long taem. Even yumi luk nowadays uhm ratio blo women or girls to boys it could be 3/1. So namba blo gels hemi gro very fast, beh still olgeta I faenem had blo oli expose lo plante opportunity olsem ol male or ol man mo ol bois. Uhm so mi mi tingse hemi no full population ia oli andastanem, oli nogat knowledge lo wanem ia economic empowerment. From we olgeta oli no kasem save lo hem, oli no kasem trening lo hem, oli no kasem like you know I nogat plante advocacy lo topic ia. I gat for women’s empowerment beh lo saed blo economic empowerment yumi no harem plante tumas advocacy lo hem ah. Taem i nogat advocacy or tumas awareness araon long hem, ol woman ia bai oli nogat plante access blo ol nolej ia ol save even lo ol resoses blo hem tu oli no save wea ples blo oli aksesem. From sapos oli no save then bai oli no really andastanem. Whether economic empowerment hemi important lo olgeta or no. Mi tingse sapos I gat more advocacy lo hem, weh hemi really kam daon gud taem yumi tokbaot advocacy plante taem yumi advocate lo level blo international nomo. Beh really long komuniti yumi mas contextualisem ol resources blo yumi ol whatever we yumi kam blo kasem komuniti emi mas suitum context blong olgeta. Mo sapos yumi sta wok towards wan target grup for example women, taem yumi sta tokabaot economic empowerment blo ol women yumi mas mekem sua se ol resoses blo yumi oli contextualisem for this target group olsem ia blo oli save kasem gud knowledge mo oli traem andastanem whether that topic emi uhm important long olgeta or no. But blo ansarem kwestin blo yu mi no tingse 100% blo ol woman ia oli andastanem. Mo from oli no andastanem they wouldn’t know if its important to them or not. But I am sure that oli lukim ol evidence mo oli really wantem gro aot lo that shadow. Oli wantem shakem off ol kaljarol norms we stap holem taet olgeta. Am sure women and girls would uhm oli sta faet blo traem faenem wan wei.  

TRANSLATIONS: So, my opinion I would say not 100% of that population which is women that really understand what economic empowerment is. As we all know that plenty of the women involve mainly on informal work and businesses. It is something that has been there before and stuck with culture for a very long time as well. Nowadays, women or girls to boys ratio could be 3/1. Girls’ rates grow very rapidly, but still, they find it difficult exposing to many opportunities whereas male, men or boys have more opportunities. So, i think it is completely not the full population that understand or have the knowledge to what economic empowerment is. When they don’t get it, and no opportunity to have trainings in the topic, also there are not many advocacies on this topic. There’s training or advocacy for women’s empowerment but for economic empowerment we don’t get to hear much about it. When there isn’t advocacy or not much awareness around the topic, women won’t have plenty access of knowledge or even the resources too no ideas where to ask for help. It shows that if they don’t know where to turn to, they won’t understand it whether economic empowerment is important to them or not. I think that if there are more advocacies made, not on international levels as usual. But really come down to community level where we contextualise the resources for that suit their community context. And if we want to work towards a target group for example women, when we are talking about economic empowerment for women, we must make sure that all the resources we contextualise for this target group in that way they can get a good knowledge and come to try and understand if the topic is important or not. But to answer your question i don’t think 100% of women have an understanding to it. And because they do not understand they wouldn’t know if it’s important to them or not. But I am sure that they see the evidence and they really want to grow of the shadow. They want to shake off that cultural norm that’s been holding them back. Am sure women and girls would fight hard to find a better way.  

 

E: Thank you. I really, i really like that contextualising information and tools. Mas mekem lo wan wei we bai kam daon lo level blo olgeta blo oli save andastanem mo really put into practice. And you not just, yes like you said, advocating at that high international level but you really putting in the work, advocating so that they truly understand and can carry it out themselves. So that being said, how do we as Organisations as well as individuals help teach and raise awareness on economic empowerment? 

TRANSLATIONS: Thank you. I really, I really like that contextualising information and tools. There has to be a way that can come down to their level so that they can understand and really put into practice. And you not just, yes like you said, advocating at that high international level but you really putting in the work, advocating so that they truly understand and can carry it out themselves. So that being said, how do we as Organisations as well as individuals help teach and raise awareness on economic empowerment? 

 

J: For that question mi interest blo ansa plante lo perspective blo wan organisation. Lo lukluk blo wan Organisation lo wan, especially NGOs. I don’t really know about the government, but NGOs, yumi save se yumi gat difdifren project we hemi targetem difdifren area, for example, project that mi mi wok lo hem yumi lukluk lo saed blo Livelihood mo Resilient. I gat plante nara project andanit lo organisation we mi stap wetem huh. I gat emia we lukluk lo saed blo Inclusive WASH directly working with people living with disability, projek we wok wetem ol yut, projek we wok wetem ol pikinini, projek we wok wetem ol woman nomo. Foreign Organisation blo oli targetem topic ia economic empowerment, I believe in cross cutting learning for ol projeks blo oli traem faenem wan wei blo oli cross-cut mo mergem mo traem linkim economic empowerment wetem wanem objective. Oli gat lo projek blo olgeta blo mekem sua se for example, pos program blo yut we are not just going you know tijim ol yut abaot whatever yumi stap tijim olgeta lo hem beh yumi traem blo empowerem olgeta tu economically. So yumi traem mekem crosscutting lo everi narafala projeks weh wan kaen organisation I gat. Olsem ia blo yumi save kilim tu  pijin wetem wan ston. Yumi stap lo wan projek beh yumi kasem plante yumi kasem ol target grup blo yumi wetem plante difren approach ah blo mekem se oli well equipped lo laef, lo disisen makings blo olgeta mo plante narafala samting.  

TRANSLATIONS:  For that question, I am very much interested to answer in an organisation perspective. I don’t know much about the government so, in an organisation perspective especially NGO’s there are different projects that target different areas for example; project that am working on its mainly for Livelihood and Resilient. There are plenty of other projects under the organisation that am working with. The project that looks after the Inclusive WASH directly working with people living with disability, project that work with youths, project that work with the children and project that work with only women. A foreign organization is targeting the topic of economic empowerment. I believe in cross-cutting learning for all projects they try to find a way to crosscut and merge and try to link economic empowerment with what objective they have. They have projects to make sure that, for example, the youth post program, we are not just going to inform the youth about whatever we are doing, but we are trying to empower them economically. So, we try to make crosscutting in every other project that any organization has. This is how we can kill two birds with one stone. We are working on a project where we are reaching out to many target groups with different approaches to make sure that they are well-equipped in life, in decision-making, and in many other things.  

 

E: Oxfam in Guatamala carried out a study in 2015 on a program for women’s economic empowerment and in their research, they found that economically empowering women had significant but like mixed impacts on women and the risk of domestic violence. So, they found that economically empowering the women could either decrease the risk of domestic violence because you know the women had stepped in to take that uhm financial pressure away from the man and you know be able to step in to help manage the finances. And so, in one way it was removing that tension and decreasing her risk of facing domestic violence. But then on the other side they found that it could also potentially increase the risk of domestic violence. Because you know the woman is able to make her own money and the man would wanna step in to either control how she was running the business or control how the money was being spent, uhm and just having control of everything that she was doing. So, there were two sides to it. So, granted you know this is a study in Guatamala and its results may not be in line with our context here in Vanuatu, but it’s clear that empowering women economically is the two-sided coin.  

What are some of the challenges that women face being economically empower and financially independent? Are there some stories or maybe some experience that you’ve seen or heard uhm with the work that you do?  

 

J: Thank you. Hemia emi wan interesting question. Uhm lo previous question mi ansa mi talem se bai mi tokabaot positif saed blo wan impact blo economically empowered for the target group which is ol women. But of course, uhm hemi gat narasaed storian blo hem tu.  Base lo kalja blo yumi, yumi save se uhm taem yumi groap i kam yu lukim finis tru lo ol olfala blo yumi kam lo parent blo yumi. Plante taem nao ol man nao oli tekem ol fes role or insaed lo home olgeta nao oli hed blo aoshol oli mekem ol decision making. So, taem yu luk se wan woman hemi stap kam slowly maybe yumi lik lo wan scenario hemi stap kam growem wan bisnis blo hem koko maet hemi ko engage lo wan formal sector. Wan wok or bisnis blo hem i gro naia hemi gainem maximize profit blo hem naia hemi karem own vatu blo hem, hemi save mekem own decision blo hao weh bai yusum mani ia i nogat wan daot se bai nogat vaelens. Lo mi fes samting weh mi tingbaot taem yu askem question ia, hemi vaelens. Taem wan woman emi economically empowered tingbaot se emi no jes abaot mani its decision and its plenty of the things weh oli follow afta lo hem. So, insaed lo wan relationship or wan home plante taem uhm male hemi wandem dominion over lo everisamting. Hemi wantem gat pawa insaed lo rilesensip, hem nao bai emi talem wanem blo mekem, wanem no blo mekem. So, taem yu luk olsem hemi kivim yu wan indication finis se taem woman oli stap gro oli kam economically empower yes wansaed bai maet hemi daonemn risk, beh mi sua se bai vaelens i kerap. Hemia nambawan samting weh bai hemi fes negative impact blo ol woman taem oli start kam economically empowered bai oli stap fesem ah visikol vaelens, eni nara form blo vaelens. Narawan hemi bai oli stap experincem ol difdifren oli gat ol difren experience wetem society mo communities. From bai komuniti i stap lukluk olgeta olsem or komuniti expectem se even hemi wok beh hemi should sta mit nao lo man blo hem. Taem man blo hem i talem hao blo tufala spendem mani. Thats how it should go. Beh hemia emi wan rong aedea beh hemi really hard blo yumi compactem aedea ia from hemi stap longtaem. So bai woman ia experience vaelens. Bai hemi experiencem sam narafala negative lukluk from society or komuniti i ko lo hem. Maet even famili blo hem tu, extended famli. From yumi liv lo wan, yumi kalja blo yumi no jes you know a triangular family that’s it. Yumi, yumi sapot wei kobak lo ol bubu, ol anti, ol ankel. So, mi lo mi, mi luk se taem woman i kam economically empowered hemi kam tu wetem plante lo ol jalenjes blo hem.  

TRANSALTIONS: Thank you. This is an interesting question. For the previous question that I answered I mentioned that will be talking about the positive side of an economically empowerment impact that has on the target group which are women. But of course, there’s another side of the story too. Based on our culture, we know that as part of growing up we already see through the elders of our community or even our parents. Many of the times the men usually take up the first roles inside a home as said they are the head of the household; they are the ones that make up the decisions. So, when you see that a woman coming up slowly maybe in a scenario where she grows a business that might engage in a formal sector. A work or a business for it to flourish now need to gain by maximizing the profit to get its own vatu, so there she can make her own decisions to how to use the money but also there isn’t any doubt that there isn’t going to be violence. When a woman is economically empowered, it means that it is not just about money, it is decision, and it is plenty of the things that follow. So, inside a relationship or a home, many times the male wants dominion over everything. Man wants to have power inside the relationship, he will tell her what to do, what not to do. So, when you look like that, he gives you an indication that when women grow up, they become economically empowered, yes one side might reduce the risk, but I’m sure that violence will increase. This is the number one thing that she will face negative impact of women when they start to become economically empowered, they will face physical violence, any other form of violence. Another one is that they will experience different things, they have different experiences with society and communities. From the community looking at them like that or the community expects that even if he works, he should still meet the man. When his man tells him how to spend their money. That’s how it should go. But this is a wrong idea, but it is really hard for us to compact this idea from it has been a long time. So, the woman will experience violence. He will experience some other negative looks from society or community to him. Maybe even his family too, extended family. From we live in one, our culture is not just you know a triangular family that’s it. We, we support each other with grandparents, aunts, uncles. So, me on me, I see that when a woman becomes economically empowered, she also comes with many challenges for her. 

 

 

 

E: Thanks that’s really interesting, i never thought about the, olsem hao nao bai komuniti i lukluk hem. There’s that challenge as well. As well as the family, maybe being like dependent that okay well she has a business now, so she needs to support the family, she needs to support what her husband or her partner is doing. Uhm so that’s interesting cause I, immediately thought of domestic violence as well. But that’s uhm a great addition to one of the many challenges that economically empowered women could face.  

TRANSLATIONS: That’s really interesting, I never thought about how the communities would react. That’s the challenge as well. As well as the family, maybe being like dependent that okay well she has a business now, so she needs to support the family, she needs to support what her husband or her partner is doing. So, that’s interesting cause i immediately thought of domestic violence as well. But that’s a great addition to of the many challenges that economically empowered women could face.  

 

J: If I may add. Yes, taem wan woman hemi stap kam antap blo disisen makings blo hem or yes you know lo saed blo economic financially hemi stap gro aot lo ol difren negatif impacts weh mi talem ia. Wan narasamting tu mi mi tingse emi contribute plante tu lo ol negative impacts ia emi all though yu struggle yu wan lo rod ia, blo as a woman, yu struggle yu wan lo rod blo kam kasem stage weh okay naia yu save identify yu wan se, i think i believe naia mi sta lo stage ia mi economically empowered cause i can make decisions, uhm mi save faenem way ol approaches blo earnem income blo mi mo spotem famli. Then yu realisem se okay although mi struggle mi wan beh naia there plenty people naia oli wantem benefit lo mi nao. Like olsem mi talem famli, or even ol narafala komunitis, narafala komitments weh komuniti o jej i kivim. Like that’s one of the thing weh plante taem hemi pusum daon ol woman ah. But i think yumi as woman aot lo everi jalenjes ia yumi yumi nid blo stanap. We need to rise above and rise beyond. Cause yurmi ol strong, yumi yumi strong. Ol woman mo ol gels we need to stand up fot that. From we cannot be shadowed for the rest of our lives, from yumi live short time nomo nomo lo wol ia. So yumi mas mekem sua se yumi gat semak opportunity olsem ol man. What’t the purpose of coming here shadowed, being box by everything and then at the end of the time taem yu livim ples ia. Like mi lo mi mi filim se that yu no experiencem laef tu its fullness.  

TRANSLATIONS: If may add. Yes, when a woman comes to the top of her decision making or yes you know on the side of economic financially, she grows out of the different negative impacts that I said here. One other thing too I think that contributes a lot to the negative impacts is that although you struggle you one on the road, as a woman, you struggle you one on the road to reach the stage where okay now you can identify yourself say, I think I believe now I am at this stage I am economically empowered because I can make decisions, uhm I can find ways of approaches to earn income for me and support family. Then you realize that okay although I struggle by myself behind there are plenty of people who want to benefit from me now. Like I said family, or even other communities, other commitments that community or church gives. Like that’s one of the things that many times pushes down women. But I think we as women out of every challenge we need to stand up. We need to rise above and rise beyond. Because you know we are strong. Women and girls, we need to stand up for that. From we cannot be shadowed for the rest of our lives, from we live short time only in the world. So, we must make sure that we have the same opportunity as men. What’s the purpose of coming here shadowed, being boxed by everything and then at the end of the time when you leave this place. Like me I feel that you do not experience life to its fullness. 

 

E: So, thank you Jemima for sharing all those different challenges that women could potentially face, while they’re economically empowering themselves and being financially independent. What advice can you give to those who may be facing these challenges or what help or other any services available for them?  

 

J: Okay my advice lo olgeta weh oli stap facem jalenjes blo oli kam economically empowered or sapos oli gat aedea blo hem beh oli no save actionem from oli stap facem some jalenjes. Mi fes advice blo mi hemi, comfort zones hemi blo ol loosers. So, we women and girls we are not loosers, we will be sapos we yumi gat concept ia, yumi gat aedea ia beh yumi no actionem. I minim se yumi stap nomo lo comfort zone blo yumi, yumi no wantem tekem wan gud risk for a good objective, or for our good goal. Yumi nid blo tekem risk. Sapos yumi stap nomo lo comfort zone blo yumi bai hemi wan drim nomo. Narawan hemi, i gat plante services weh hemi available olbaot jes because yumi hinded by our culture and our ol kastom traditions blo yumi. Hemia no wan gudfala reason blo holem bak yumi lo aos. Yumi we yumi live lo Vila, yumi gat plante business houses, plante partners, plante agencies weh oli providem ol opportunity, ol pathway blo yumi save actually kasem knowledge mo enablem yumi blo yumi save wokbaot long wanem yumi stap tingting lo hem blo mekem se yumi kam economically empowered wan dei. Depending long wanem Nature blo business weh yu stap tingting long hem. Yumi weh yumi stap long Santo mi bilif tu se yumi gat ol opportunity olsem weh yumi save wok araon mo lukim and then sikim advice sikim help. Hemia ol services weh oli available. The other thing that I’d like to mention, is that these days our social media i gro weh gro and it would be a suprise to me sapos wan yangfala emi talem se hemi no ko lo fesbuk or hemi no ko lo instagram. Tete, tete plante lo ol business aos oli network tru lo social media. Tete plante lo ol business aos oli network, NGOs, whatever business house it is, plante oli network tru lo social media. So yumi ol yangfala and especially ol woman wetem ol gels hemi taem blo yumi level up nao, yumi ko wan step higher. So, i gud yumi faenem ol opportunities ia taem yumi luk. Let’s reach out kivim wan message, “wanem nao yufala i stap mekem, mi gat kaen aedea  olsem, organization blo yufala i mekem kaen olsem tu?” And you know don’t be in your comfort zone. Pos yu sta lo comfort zone blo yu, bai yu stap lo ples ia forever ia nao bai yu no save muv. Bai yu stap lo comfort zone blo yu, yu luk across bai yu luk ol pipol oli stap elevate beh yu stap lo semak ples. That’s just because yu no wantem tekem wan risk. You need to take a risk so that bai yu save. Aot lo risk ia bai yu lanem plante samting, bai yu reflect bai yu luk se okay this is somethings that mi mi mekem emi gud, emia ol jalenjes blo mi wanem nao way forward aot lo hem. And then slowly taem yu expose lo opportunity bai yu faenem plante different people weh oli gat plante different experience. So, blo economically empowered yumi ol woman and girls yumi no jes tingbaot lo wan perspective nomo, or its all the money, try maximize the profit, try and you know upgrade the business. You know it’s all about decision making. To be successful in whatever you do hemi abaot ol gudfala choices mo decision makings blo yumi. I think wan nara samting we mi mi like blo addem taem mi harem question ia emi let’s all be aware that not everyone wants to celebrate our success. So, if you succeed lo wanem yu stap mekem, if its school, if it’s a small business, whatever thing you’re doing just remember not everybody oli wantem celebratem sucess blo yu. There more people at your back blo oli stikim yu, tokabaot yu, o rabisim yu. But you need to rise above and beyond cause fri lanj hemi faen nomo lo mouse trap. Hemi minim se bai janis nomo yumi kasem fri lanj. Yu mas wok from so even taem yu wok from yu kasem wan samting not everiwan oli wantem selebretem success blo yu.  

TRANSLATIONS: Okay my advice to all of you who are facing challenges to become economically empowered or if you have an idea but you don’t know how to act on it because you are facing some challenges. My first advice is, comfort zones are for losers. So, we women and girls we are not losers, we will be if we have this concept, we have this idea but we don’t act on it. It means that we are only staying in our comfort zone, we don’t want to take a good risk for a good objective, or for our good goal. We need to take risks. If we stay only in our comfort zone it will be just a dream. Another one is, there are many services that are available out there just because we are hindered by our culture and our customs traditions. This is not a good reason to hold us back in the house. We who live in Vila, we have many business houses, many partners, many agencies that provide opportunities, pathways for us to actually gain knowledge and enable us to work on what we are thinking about to make us economically empowered one day. Depending on the nature of the business that you are thinking about. We who live in Santo I believe too that we have opportunities like that where we can work around and look and then seek advice seek help. These are the services that are available. The other thing that I’d like to mention, is that these days our social media is growing very fast and it would be a surprise to me if a young person tells me that he doesn’t go on Facebook or he doesn’t go on Instagram. Today, today many of the business houses network through social media. Today many of the business houses network, NGOs, whatever business house it is, many network through social media. So we young people and especially women and girls it is time for us to level up now, we go one step higher. So, it is good for us to find these opportunities when we look. Let’s reach out and give a message, “what are you doing, I have an idea like, organization of you do something like that too?” And you know don’t be in your comfort zone. If you stay in your comfort zone, you will stay in this place forever and then you won’t be able to move. If you stay in your comfort zone, you look across and you see people who are elevating but you stay in the same place. That’s just because you don’t want to take a risk. You need to take a risk so that you can. Out of this risk you will learn many things, you will reflect, and you will see that okay this is something that I did well, these are my challenges what is the way forward out of them. And then slowly when you expose yourself to opportunity you will find many different people who have many different experiences. So, to be economically empowered we women and girls we don’t just think about one perspective only, or it’s all the money, try to maximize the profit, try and you know upgrade the business. You know it’s all about decision making. To be successful in whatever you do it is about good choices and decision making of us. I think another thing that I would like to add when I hear this question is let’s all be aware that not everyone wants to celebrate our success. So, if you succeed in what you are doing, if it’s school, if it’s a small business, whatever thing you’re doing just remember not everybody wants to celebrate your success. There are more people behind you who will stab you, talk about you, or rubbish you. But you need to rise above and beyond because free cheese is only found in a mouse trap. It means that only by chance we will get free cheese. You must work hard so even when you work hard and you achieve something not everyone wants to celebrate your success. 

E: Thank you, Jemima. I really like how you answer that question, and you know emphasizing that we need to step outside of our comfort zone in order to achieve what we want to achieve and then bringing it back to the business owners to reach out and network with other business owners, with other people who have maybe gone through similar experience and learn from their challenges. And that, it’s wonderful to hear that advice coming from a young woman who has been able to like witness as well the women in the communities growing their own business, seeing that change. So, I really value that answer. Now each episode we ask our guest, what is the most important lesson you have learnt as a woman navigating life in Vanuatu today? 

 

J: I like that one. Mi lo mi wan important lesen blo mi, i would say learn from the best, learn from your elders, just because we are growing, and life is changing. The world is elevating doesn’t mean that yu disregardem kastom mo kalja blo yu. There are very some good values lo ples ia we westernization hemi no save kivim lo yu. Which you need to find what is good for you and then yu traem mergem. But, as a young woman mi journey, mi laekem plante blo mi learn from the elders. Hemia no jes lo wok ples. At home out lo everybody am the one we me trail behind lo apu woman, or ol tata blo mi plante. So, mi aot se mi journey lo wokaboat ia mi mi laekem learn from ol elders.  

TRANSLATIONS: I like that one. For me one important lesson for me, I would say learn from the best, learn from your elders, just because we are growing, and life is changing. The world is elevating doesn’t mean that you disregard your customs and culture. There are some very good values in this place that westernization cannot give you. Which you need to find what is good for you and then you try to merge them. But, as a young woman my journey, I like many things to learn from the elders. This is not just at work but also at home and out from everybody I am the one who follows behind the old woman, or my grandfathers just to learn. So, I say that my journey in this walk I like to learn from the elders.  

 

E: Learning from our elders. Thank you, Jemima, that’s a really lovely lesson that you’ve learned and i hope that’s something that other women and girls will maybe take into consideration. So that like you said you can we have the best of both worlds. As always will love to leave you with good information to take away from each episode. So, what is economic empowerment?  

Economic empowerment is when the tools and opportunity is given back to the individual to make their own decisions financially within their family, and its also an opportunity for them to celebrate their achievement within their community. We heard from Jemima that there are many benefits and challenges to be being financially independent. But whatever happens ladies step out of your comfort zone, seek support from other people or other women who have setup businesses, seek advice and network within your community, social media is also a great way to build that network. Another thing contextualized advocacy. We heard from Jemima today that we need to be advocating for economic empowerment. But when we do this we need to make sure that its contextualize so that ol woman mo ol gel lo ol komunitis blo yumi oli really kasem stret information mo understanding lo wanem nao hemi economic empowerment and why its so important. That brings us to the end of another episode we hope this conversation has opened your mind to the endless possibilities of being financially independent.  

TRANSLATIONS: Learning from our elders. Thank you, Jemima, that’s a really lovely lesson that you’ve learned and i hope that’s something that other women and girls will maybe take into consideration. So that like you said you can we have the best of both worlds. As always will love to leave you with good information to take away from each episode. So, what is economic empowerment? Economic empowerment is when the tools and opportunity is given back to the individual to make their own decisions financially within their family, and its also an opportunity for them to celebrate their achievement within their community. We heard from Jemima that there are many benefits and challenges to be being financially independent. But whatever happens ladies step out of your comfort zone, seek support from other people or other women who have setup businesses, seek advice and network within your community, social media is also a great way to build that network. Another thing is contextualized advocacy. We heard from Jemima today that we need to be advocating for economic empowerment. But when we do this, we need to make sure that it is contextualized so that the women and girls in our communities really get the right information and understanding of what economic empowerment is and why it is so important. That brings us to the end of another episode we hope this conversation has opened your mind to the endless possibilities of being financially independent. 

 

J: Thank you, Elsie, for having me. Mi really enjoyem experience ia blo storian wetem yufala and i look forward blo gat mo storian and meetim plante lo ol narafala gels women we oli sta wokbaot lo journey ia.  

TRANSLATIONS: Thank you, Elsie, for having me. I really enjoyed this experience of talking with you and I look forward to having more stories and meeting many of the other girls and women who are working on this journey.  

 

E: As always, thanks for listening to the RoundTable.  

 

Conclusion 

E: Make sure to check us out on Facebook, Instagram and Tiktok as Sista Vanuatu and our website sista.com.vu. This is Elsie, from the RoundTable. If you want to hear from The RoundTable podcast, make sure to tune into the next episode.