Jessica Philimon – New Skies Ahead

By Winy Marango + Gina Dehinavanua

care-in-vanuatu

Left to Right: Andriana Tari, Jessica Philimon, Rachel Lume and CARE Vanuatu’s Country Director Megan Chisholm, during the Pacific Girl Regional Meeting in Suva, Fiji © Yoshiko/ RMI

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

CARE International’s Young Women’s Leadership Program is working with a diverse group of young women in Port Vila and Tafea Province to build their leadership skills to become advocates for gender equality and ending violence against women and girls. Partnered with experienced women leaders as mentors, these girls have embarked on a 12 month journey to pursue their leadership goals.

Never ending possibilities

Filling in the Young Women’s Leadership Program application form was a gamble for 16-year-old Jessica Philimon. “I thought, ‘It’s just another form’,” remembers Jessica. “I didn’t want to get my hopes up about it so when the CARE team called me to attend the first workshop I was shocked, but super happy I was successful.”

Originally from Tanna, Jessica enjoys city life in the heart of Port Vila living with her parents, two brothers and elder sister. “My dad has done all sorts of jobs from construction to now being a debt collector,” says Jessica. Although times have sometimes been tough for her family, they have been able to stay in the same house her whole life.

However, those tough times have meant Jessica had to leave school in 2017 after only completing Year 8. Now she spends most of her time at home helping her mother with the household chores. Reflecting on her school days, Jessica remembers being quiet and shy. “At school, I was bit shy but I always made friends easily,” says Jessica.

Though she had to cut her education short, Jessica has continued to look for opportunities to learn and grow. In 2016, she took a school holiday job for two weeks as an enumerator at the Vanuatu Electoral Office in Port Vila, and there made connections with a colleague who kept in touch. At the end of 2017, that former colleague encouraged her to apply for the Young Women’s Leaderhsip program.

The program has helped Jessica to refine her leadership goals and have a clearer idea of where she wants to go. She is also inspired to encourage other young women too. “I want to become a nurse or to work with children in my community to build their leadership skills and tell them about their value, responsibilities and rights,” says Jessica. ”I feel so much more confident now to talk with my peers, especially the girls, and encourage them to dream big and put their goals into action.”.

In May 2018, Jessica and four other young women involved in CARE Vanuatu’s programs were given the opportunity to travel to Fiji for a regional meeting to develop a plan for funding inititiaves in the Pacific to support the empowerment of adolescent girls. This group of inspiring girls was selected based on their confidence and ability to represent the voice of Ni-Vanuatu girls and speak up about issues affecting adolescent girls in Vanuatu. Accompanied by two CARE staff on their first overseas trip, the five girls had the opportunity to meet other young girls in the Pacific and to share challenges and hopes that girls in the Pacific share.

“It was my first time to ever travel abroad and I know the outcome of the meeting will help meet the needs of adolescent girls like myself and other young girls in my community,” Jessica says. “I was able to give presentations at the Regional Meeting because of the workshop on facilitation skills that I attended earlier this year with the Young Women’s Leadership Program.”

Thinking back to how shy she was at school, Jessica could never have imagined that she would be giving a presentation at such an important regional meeting. But learning to step up and grab hold of new opportunities has taken her a long way. “If there’s ever a chance for me to reach out to young girls who have had to leave school, I would encourage them to take part in this program as it gave me new hope for a better, brighter future for tomorrow,” says Jessica.

Now, Jessica is confident that there are exciting opportunities on the horizon. “After attending the Young Women’s Leadership Program held by CARE Vanuatu, I feel that now I have a bright future ahead of me and set goals in mind,” Jessica smiles.


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NEWS

  • Enhancing legal access nationwide

    The Public Solicitor’s Office (PSO) is working tirelessly to ensure communities have increased knowledge of the law and that alleged offenders across Vanuatu get the highest standard of representation. This was conveyed by Jane Tari, the second highest official at the PSO and the first woman to reach such a senior position, who has voiced her commitment to the office’s mission to provide quality professional legal services to economically disadvantaged people across Vanuatu. Tari said knowing the law helps everyone make good choices that benefit both individuals and community. “And of course, at the PSO we work a lot with alleged offenders as we believe everyone has the right to a fair hearing. Anywhere. Not just in court. Everyone needs to be heard and we never want to see the wrong person put in jail. It is just not right,” she said. Ms Tari, who hails from Ambae has witnessed violence and crime in her community. She said her personal motivation to increase access to justice in rural areas aligns perfectly with the values of the PSO. She has been with the PSO for over fourteen years, spending more than a decade managing the PSO Santo Office, which catered to TORBA, SANMA and PENAMA provinces. “For me, working in a rural setting where you see a lot of gaps in the services, has been one of the motivations for doing this work and contributing to improving the system. I was fortunate to be awarded an Australian Awards scholarship and my hope was to go out and get as much knowledge as possible and come back to help the people of Vanuatu, to access justice, especially vulnerable members of the community including women and children,” she said. “In a rural setting, we have all grown up witnessing violence and injustices and sometimes for people in the community it feels like you’re helpless. Now I’m in this position I feel like I can contribute by educating the community as to their rights through awareness and free clinics in remote communities. “The priority is for the PSO to continue to train and upskill its sixteen lawyers and increase resources in all the provinces in order to provide high quality legal services to people.” As a student, Tari was honoured with an Australia scholarship to pursue her Master of Law degree. Now, within the PSO, Tari continues to witness the beneficial outcomes of Vanuatu’s partnership with Australia in the justice sector. According to the Ministry of Justice and Community Service (MoJCS), PSO currently has offices in four provinces, and as part of the government’s decentralization agenda, the office is increasingly focusing on expanding its network and reaching underserved communities. MoJCS stated that citizens can access PSO’s services across the country through offices located in Port Vila, Santo, Malekula and Tanna. “Solicitors also attend other islands for monthly court circuits and to run awareness sessions and clinics for people wanting to use the legal service. The PSO also runs a weekly one-hour radio show on the national broadcaster on Fridays to help raise awareness of legal issues in the community, and has a website where people can access information,” said the ministry. The government of Australia has substantially supported the PSO in recent years, through its strong police and justice partnership with Vanuatu, and according to Tari, the PSO and the communities it serves, are seeing the benefit of Australia’s support. “The support has helped us so much and it is important that any support we receive from Australia is sustainable. The teams come in and give us skills but once they leave the skills are there and you can see that. “You can see the elevation in knowledge, skills, and confidence. For example, we have so many new lawyers coming in and having Australia’s consistent support has helped us come up together and that has knock on impacts on the development of jurisprudence in Vanuatu,” Ms Tari added. ______________________________________________________________________ SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST

  • Voter Registration closes today

    Today is the deadline for voter registration as outlined in the Referendum timeline. However, individuals who are in the process of obtaining a new National ID and plan to vote on May 29 will not be affected by this deadline, according to the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Edward Kaltamat. The Electoral Commission Chairman clarified that with the voter registration now closed, those who missed it would not be added to the electoral roll. However, he reassured that it is still possible to obtain a new ID card for other purposes, and it can still be used for voting on polling day. Kaltamat explained that the Electoral Office oversees the voter registration, whereas the Civil Registration and Identity Management (CRIM) Office is responsible for the National ID registration and verification. He explained that the eligibility criteria for voting in the referendum consist of three requirements; the individual must be a citizenship, he or she is 18 years old, and owns a valid National ID card. These criteria are in place not to restrict eligible voters but to ensure that everyone who is eligible can exercise their right to vote on polling day. Kaltamat further explained the eligibility criteria for the elections, which include being at least 18 years old, having a National ID card, and being listed on the electoral roll, where as for the referendum, even if someone’s name is not listed on the electoral roll, they can still cast their vote. He elaborated that after the cutoff date, the Electoral Commission and Office will have a better idea of how many people have registered and are expected to vote. This will help them with the management of dealing with the referendum voting process and preparation. This will also facilitate an understanding of the voter count per polling station, enabling the preparation of polling materials. Kaltamat reiterated that since Vanuatu is a single constituency, eligible voters can cast their vote at any polling station, even if their name is not on the electoral list. Meanwhile, the National ID verification in Port Vila continues today and will close at 5pm. Esther Muluane, a CRIM officer confirmed those that needed to verify their ID cards or make new ones can visit the following areas; Ministry of Health, Vila Central Hospital, Ex-FOL, main market and Anamburu market. ______________________________________________________________________ SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST

  • From Ambae Island to IT Leadership: Meet Glennys Vora Kaltapau, Vanuatu’s Tech Trailblazer

    Mrs. Glennys Vora Kaltapau, a proud native of Ambae Island, has carved a remarkable path in the world of technology. At 49 years old, married to a man from Pango Village on Efate, and a mother of one, her journey is one of dedication and passion. Starting as a system administrator for the Finance Department in 2006, Mrs. Kaltapau spent six years developing her skills before being recruited by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) in 2014. Since then, she has served as the System Administrator Manager, leading a team of five, including three women and two men. In her role, Mrs. Kaltapau and her team oversee the data centre for all government departments in the country, ensuring smooth operations and security of critical systems. Her journey to this leadership position began with a Bachelor’s degree in Technology Engineering and Electronics from the University of Southern Queensland in Australia in 1996. Despite coming from a family of nurses, Mrs. Kaltapau told the Vanuatu Daily Post that she discovered her passion for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) during her Year 13 at Matevulu College in Santo, where computers were begin to introduce to students. While the Information Technology (IT) community in Vanuatu is predominantly male, Mrs. Kaltapau emphasise that the IT community in the country is very supportive. However, she acknowledges the challenges of the job, including its demanding nature and the need to always be ready to attend to solve unforeseen issues. Yet, it’s the ever-changing landscape of technology that keeps Mrs. Kaltapau motivated. “Although I graduated a long time ago, there is always something new to learn each day,” she says. Encouraging other females in the ICT sector, Mrs. Kaltapau urges them to step out of their comfort zones, believing that they could inspire the next generation of women in tech. “Maybe it is time for us to come out as we might never know, we could be an inspiration to a young lady out there who wants to pursue a career in IT,” she says. ______________________________________________________________________ SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST 

  • Facebook Admins urged to curb swearing and threats

    All public Facebook page and group administrators in Vanuatu are urged to moderate their own pages and groups in order to control swearing and threatening language. President of the Social Media Association (SMA) of Vanuatu, Mr. Witnol Benkor Tor, made this call after the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), through its Public Relations Officer (PRO), Hilaire Bule, voiced the government’s concern over rising offensive content on social media. Mr. Bule said that as the country is heading towards the National Referendum, the PMO is appealing to the SMA, especially to the administrators and moderators, to control the information posted on their pages and groups. He mentioned that some citizens even swore and threatened other people. “We are appealing to them to do their job properly and for citizens not to abuse their freedom of expression. Some people have gone too far; they swear and discuss the personal lives of others,” the PRO said. However, Mr. Tor stated that the admins who are under the SMA are well coordinated. “We moderate our groups and filter them to ensure there is no swearing or threatening so that we have good, healthy discussions,” he said. “Every group under the association receives messages for filtering and moderating posts and comments. “I’m making a call to all admins to moderate all pages and groups, filter out swearing and threatening language. We’re asking creators of new pages or groups that want to be part of the association to come forward. We will also help in capacity building for each admin.” It was also reported that some Facebook groups in Vanuatu have no admins and moderators, which makes it difficult to control what is posted and commented, and these are the ones with more abusive content. _______________________________________________________________________ SOURCE:VANUATU DAILY POST

  • Mapping Exercise Progresses

    Vanuatu Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (VANGO) is driving the localisation of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) across Vanuatu. This is a noteworthy step towards improving community-led initiatives. The mapping exercise undertaken by VANGO has shown commendable progress, with new registered members from the provinces of TAFEA, MALAMPA, PENAMA, SANMA, SHEFA and TORBA. The increase in membership, with over 200 new CSOs registered across all six provinces, reflects an increasing interest in community engagement and social entrepreneurship. The registered CSOs diverse categories, encompassing Faith-Based Organisations, Community-Based Organisations (CBOs), National NGOs, International NGOs and small to medium-sized social community enterprises. The newly registered CSOs’ key areas of focus identified include Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), Health, Education, Women’s Empowerment and Livelihoods, Community Agro-business, Climate Change and Adaptation, Youth programs and Community Church and community recreational activities. During the mapping exercise, CSOs highlighted critical challenges, including a lack of governance management, limited access to grants support, and insufficient capital resources for initiative implementation. Ms Mary Jack of the Mitingar Women’s Association, a CBO in Tanna, remarked, “We possess the necessary skills and local knowledge, yet lack essential resources, governance structures, and institutional support to actualise our community projects. “We envision a partnership with local provincial authorities and donors to develop our community-based initiatives.” Echoing this sentiment, Mr. William Nasak, Chairman of VANGO, emphasised the important role of CSOs in spearheading transformative change within communities. “We want CSOs leading community projects to foster positive change,” stated Mr. Nasak, highlighting VANGO’s commitment to fostering collaboration with the government at national, provincial, and grassroots levels. VANGO will launch its comprehensive map in early May 2024, showcasing the vital setting of CSOs across Vanuatu. The Association extends its gratitude to the Government of Vanuatu, particularly the Department of Strategic Planning, Policy and Aid Coordination (DSPPAC), for their invaluable partnership and financial support towards this mapping exercise. _______________________________________________________________________ SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST

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