Joyce Napuat, Development Facilitator, World Vision attends 13th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women

Joyce Napuat attended the 13th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and 6th Meeting of Pacific Ministers for Women in Suva in early October 2017.

Recently nominated as one of SPC’s 70 Inspiring Women, Joyce is an advocate for people with a disability and believes that every disabled child offers a special talent to the world.  

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Joyce Napuat, Development Facilitator, World Vision

One of the biggest barriers that I have seen in the lives of girls with a disability is that communities don’t recognize them as human beings. From my own personal experience, I have found that they don’t even give her a chance to use her voice.

For example, most churches have youth programs where disabled people are actively involved. But when it comes to electing a new committee, they won’t give her the opportunity to be elected, because they think she hasn’t got a brain.

They just assume that because she has a disability, then she doesn’t need to be included. Even the Sunday school teachers won’t support the girls with disabilities to be part of the church committee and treat them like they are ‘nobodies’.

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There is also this cultural misconception that if she joins the group or physically comes too close to them, then something bad will happen. For example, if a woman is pregnant, they don’t want a disabled woman near her because they are afraid that the unborn child will become disabled too. I have experienced that and it really hurts. This kind of discrimination has even come from my neighbors and my own family too.

They will say things like ‘Don’t go close to Joyce. If you go close to her, your child is going to become like her’. Throughout my whole life, I have had to face negative comments like that. Even when I was a child, other children would laugh at me and call me ‘broken leg’. Just having dignity and basic human rights is a huge barrier for people with disability.

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Now I am an advocate for people with a disability and I want their voices to be heard. Disabled people have special gifts and talents that they can use to improve their own life and help build their community.

Since I have left the island and started preaching for the rights of people with disability, I can slowly see some disabled people breaking from their chains. But most of them are still shy because they are still healing from the negative words that their family has said to them. It really brings them down when they get called names.

It is through the support of my grandmother that I am strong. The negative things that people said about me didn’t influence her. People told her that she was wasting her time on me. They also told her that she was wasting her money to pay for my school fees because they thought I wouldn’t be able to do anything for her in the future. I am so thankful that she never gave up on me.

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I want every woman, whether they have a disability or not, to know your rights and to also know that you have a voice and talents that God has given you to make this world better.

As long as I’m alive, I will use my voice and advocate to parents of children with a disability to remind them about their children’s rights to health and education. It’s my passion to be a role model for children with a disability. For me, I look beyond disability and believe that everyone matters and there is always a way.


Joyce is a Development Facilitator at World Vision Vanuatu and was sponsored by Care International to attend the Triennial

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  • Women’s Network builds home for disabled mother

    The Women I Tok Tok Tugeta (WITTT) members in Uripiv Island, MALAMPA Province have recently completed the construction of a house for a disabled mother. The community spirit and resilience initiative is part of a broader effort by ActionAid Vanuatu to empower Ni-Vanuatu women after the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone (TC) Pam in 2015. The Country Program Manager of ActionAid Vanuatu, Flora Vano, elaborated on the impact of this achievement. “The house belongs to a woman living with a disability, and the able women who are part of the WITTT network in the community constructed it using local materials collected from the bush,” Vano said. “The work was done by the mothers, showcasing their commitment and public spirit.” The WITTT network, which now reaches over 5,000 women across five islands, has become an essential platform for mobilising gender-responsive and inclusive disaster preparedness and recovery efforts. In 2019, the network expanded to include the WITTT Sunshine Chapter, specifically aimed at addressing the unique challenges faced by women with disabilities and enhancing their participation and leadership in humanitarian actions. The house at Uripiv was built under the WITTT Sunshine initiative. Over the next three years, ActionAid plans to scale up support for WITTT Sunshine, focusing on protection, service access, and gender-responsive disaster management, this effort is aimed at reinforcing the resilience and leadership of women with disabilities in Vanuatu. “The mothers volunteer their time and labour without expecting monetary compensation,” Vano explained. “They help out as a way of life, a tradition that the network has amplified.” Vano also expressed concerns about the changing mentality towards volunteer work due to external influences and labour practices. “The idea of working to help someone without expecting something in return is getting lost, the network is set up to help those who cannot help themselves, to uplift their spirits, and to provide a platform for school leavers and those feeling neglected by their communities,” she said. In 2022, with support from the Australian Aid Programme, WITTT Sunshine established an economic hub. This hub provides a safe and accessible space for women with disabilities to organise, strategise, and develop their small businesses, further expanding their initiatives and developing their economic resilience. _______________________________________________________________________ SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST

  • PMHN marks International Menstrual Health Day with launch of ‘Period Stories’ awareness video

    In acknowledgment of world Menstrual Health Day 2024 (#MHDay2024), the launch of “Period Stories” awareness video was hosted by the Pacific Menstrual Health Network (PMHN) on Friday last week. It was led by the secretariat, Hannah Tamata and co-hosted with Mary and Jack Kalsrap of Mamma’s Laef Vanuatu, who have been working in the menstrual health space for many years. “Period is a sensitive and taboo topic in Vanuatu and across the Pacific” said Ms Tamata. “From Papua New Guinea to Samoa, we have celebrated #MHDay2024 in a very big way by launching Pacific Period Stories film campaign. “These are story-tellers of different ages, cultures and genders share their personal menstrual health journey in raw, vulnerable and inspiring ways.” The film project was led by Pacific women, with support provided to women videographers and photographers (along with some men). The teams behind the scenes who captured the stories share their insights about what it was like to document menstrual health experiences. Vanuatu star of the video, Mr. Aminio David was in attendance and addressed the gathered group. Mr. David is the only man to participate in the story telling is from Vanuatu. The Pango native is a brave man indeed to speak out in support of the need to support women and girls in making life easier for them when it comes to ‘sikmun,’ providing funds for menstrual resources and helping to break some of the taboos. A panel moderated by Relvie Poilapa and comprising of Sharon Nicolls from Sista, Anne Pakoa from Vanuatu Young Women for Change (VYWC), Mrs. Kalsrap from Mamma’s Laef, Vivian Obed from Further Arts and Ben Taura of Manage Family Health, Ministry of Health (MoH) including discussed some of the positive impacts currently occurring in Vanuatu. Family Life Education has introduced menstrual health education into the school curriculum for senior levels and it is hoped to be introduced to the junior levels. Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) look forward to more collaboration with the MoH to address the Menstrual Health and Hygiene issues in Vanuatu. The launch was attended by 42 people. _______________________________________________________________________ SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST

  • Vanuatu’s historic solidarity march and petition for Kanak people

    Led by the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs (MCC), Vanuatu citizens in Port Vila organised a peaceful parade from Saralana Park to the French Embassy yesterday. The event aimed to show solidarity with the Kanak people in New Caledonia. “This will be marked in the history of Kanak people. A similar parade was held in 1980 when Vanuatu gained its independence,” Chief Paul Robert Ravun, President of the MCC said. “Today, we march again, led by the chiefs, to honor our friends, the Kanaks, who have longed for the same privilege but have not yet achieved it. “At this stage, we hear about the ongoing situation causing many deaths. As part of the Melanesian countries, Vanuatu wants to show the same respect through a peaceful parade, expressing our condolences to our brothers in Kanaky, some of whom have lost their lives.” The parade was supported by a petition signed by the MCC, Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC), Vanuatu National Council of Women (VNCW), Vanuatu National Youth Council (VNYC), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and various Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). The petition was presented to the French ambassador and included the following translated points: To the French Government, the French Ambassador, and the Republic of France: This petition addresses the ongoing civil unrest and loss of life among the Kanak people in New Caledonia. We, the undersigned, advocate for dialogue and roundtable discussions with the French government. We urge the facilitation of the transition outlined in United Nations (UN) Resolution 1514. Dated the 7th of June, 2024, we present the following points: Recognition of Indigenous People: We call on the French government to formally acknowledge the Kanaky people as Indigenous, recognising their rights, freedoms, and dignity in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Denouncing Discrimination: We denounce all forms of discrimination and call for the establishment of peace and harmonious relations based on justice, democracy, respect for human rights, non-discrimination, and good faith. Decolonisation of Kanaky: The French government must initiate peaceful measures to support the independence of the Kanaky people, including recognising and respecting their customs, traditional practices, customary land rights, and organisational structures, as mandated by UN Resolution 1514. Immediate Cessation of Military Operations: The French government must cease all military operations in New Caledonia and withdraw its troops immediately to pave the way for dialogue and end the violence affecting the Kanaky people. Additionally, they must stop the clearing of lands and respect the constitutional rights of the Kanaky. Independent International Investigations: We call for independent international and UN bodies to investigate the killings and violence against the Kanaky people. The French government must allow these bodies entry to ensure transparency and accountability, with public reports made available. Support for Kanaky Independence: The relationship between Kanaky, New Caledonia, and Vanuatu is deeply rooted in shared history and ancestral ties. We demand that the French government take necessary measures regionally and internationally to address the rights of the Kanaky people, ensuring they can secure their rights and freedoms without intimidation or force. Signatories: This petition is supported by the MCC, VCC, VNCW, VNYC, CSOs, and various NGOs. In response, French Ambassador Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer said, “First of all, I would like to thank the Council of Chiefs for organising this peaceful demonstration. We take note of the message that has been transmitted to us and will immediately forward all these elements to Paris. We also thank the law enforcement officers who ensured safety throughout the day. Thank you very much.” Chief Ravun also expressed his gratitude, saying, “I want to thank everyone for showing that we can parade peacefully. Thank you to all the people who stood behind us and made today possible. This moment will be marked in history.” _______________________________________________________________________ SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST

  • Commission chair eyes announcing results on June 10

    Judging from the current speed of counting, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission is confident all 379 ballot boxes including those from overseas, will be completed in less than two weeks. “Thank you young team for speedy counting,” Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Mr. Edward Kaltamat said. “If we can announce the result by June 10 then we may not need a further four or five days but, most likely one day extra, if we can complete SANMA tonight (05.06.24). Then we move on to count PENAMA and TORBA ballot boxes. We will, then, be able to complete all 21 overseas polling stations over the weekend. “Once we produce the results, if we find one or two ballot boxes do not reconcile with the numbers as recorded in the box then we must recount the votes from the ballot box until we are satisfied. “Even all the envelopes are kept to ensure that the number of votes counted is equal to the number of envelopes used.” All votes cast are stapled together in tens to make it easy to count again for verification. “What this means is that after counting all the votes we will cross check the numbers electronically to ensure they agree,” he said. Mr. Kaltamat said verification could take two days before the results are announced to the nation. He praised his young officers who he said, have been with them for the last six months and are the contributants to the speedy progress in the completion of the first referendum vote counting in TAFEA, SHEFA and MALAMPA Provinces. “Now we are on to the biggest constituency in the country which is SANMA Province which has over 90 polling stations. We hope to complete counting the votes tonight,” he said. Observing a sense of energetic spirit displayed by the young officers as they call out “Valid 17A” or “Void 17B” as they drop each vote in its right ballot box, Kaltamat said, “My message to the young officers is that they are fully dedicated and are committed to stand up late into the night and even until the early hours of the next day, and they still have the energy to carry out their duties until they complete counting their ballot boxes. “Other people may look tired but, these young people are physically strong and are motivated to keep counting until they finish each of their ballot boxes. “This is very encouraging for the Commission, to witness such dedication”. When asked about the future of the smart young officers that count, he said the Commission also “grooms them” for future potential political careers as the political future of the country belongs to them. He named at least two members of his staff who were nurtured by the Commission to develop into dedicated Provincial Officers. _______________________________________________________________________ SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST

  • Yut Pawa Programme equipping high school dropouts for the workforce

    The Second Phase of an initiative called the Yut Pawa Programme was officially launched on Wednesday this week. This programme aims to equip high school dropouts in Vanuatu with the necessary skills, knowledge, and support to successfully enter the workforce. The Communications officer and Project Coordinator of the Yut Pawa programme at V-Lab, Emma Hivo, shared insights into the programme’s objectives and structure. “Supported by the Commonwealth of Learning in partnership with Youth Challenge Vanuatu (YCV), the initiative aims to gather 50 young individuals in Vanuatu and empower them through training, support, and skill development,” she said. “There is a critical need for such programmes, as it is a common scenario for many young people to find themselves jobless after leaving high school.” Ms Hivo said the programme will help provide opportunities for these youths to make something meaningful out of their lives. Scheduled to run from June to November, the programme will unfold in three stages. In the first stage, participants will explore their passions and interests, determining whether they prefer employment or entrepreneurship. Stage two will focus on refining business ideas, assessing their potential for success, and providing support in marketing and profit generation. Finally, stage three will offer internship opportunities to expose participants to real work environments, allowing them to gain practical experience. Noel Steven, the Director of YCV, noted the importance of internships in bridging the gap between training and employment. He outlined the post-training process, including performance assessments and interviews to identify areas for further development. With a total of 50 youths selected for the programme, Hivo said the initiative targets various employment sectors, including receptionist roles, gardening, construction, childcare and more. “The programme aims to provide participants with diverse experiences to enhance their employability,” she said. Hivo mentioned this marks the second phase of the Yut Pawa programme, following a successful inaugural run last year, which saw 300 youths participating, with 100 advancing to the second stage. Eligibility for the programme extends to those who dropped out in year eleven or below. Looking ahead, Director Steven mentioned ongoing alliances with organisations such as V-Lab and upcoming partnerships with the Department of Labour. Hivo added that the training aligns with the broader framework of the Partnership for Open Distance and Flexible Learning (ODFL) in the Pacific region. _______________________________________________________________________ SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST

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