Sista wishes Vanuatu a happy 41st anniversary!
The highlight of this month was having more team members join the Sista squad including Iline Johnson, Finance Officer, Rosina Kaimbang, Project Officer, and Megan Rossiter, who will be volunteering with us for the next three months as our Human Resources and Leadership consultant. Thank you ladies for bringing your energy, knowledge and skills into the Sista office, we are excited to learn and grow with you. We are thrilled (and relieved) to work with Kathy and Steve from Arise consultancy to help us set up our financial system. Thank you CARE for your support to facilitate this consultancy so we can get Sista’s systems up and running.
We spent most of July planning for our various projects including our upcoming Fashion Show (supported by Ambassade de France) and co-implementing the fourth cycle of the Young Women’s Leadership Program with CARE Vanuatu. We were also thrilled to receive Podcast Training from PACMAS and can’t wait for you to hear our podcast that will be launched in a few months – it’s going to be awesome and unique to the Pacific!
Perhaps the most exciting thing of all is that we secured our funding order with the We Rise Coalition to support the Sista team with salaries and to strengthen our organizational processes and communications. We are so grateful for this partnership as we are now able to continue our work, which has been mostly voluntary over the years, and the Executive Director does not have to work several jobs at once just to continue the mission of Sista. Thank you We Rise Coalition for helping us in our mission and for showing us the true meaning of sisterhood. Yu yes!
‘Strong Mama’ Retreat and Workshop, FRIDA FUND
On the 3rd of July, the participants of the Strong Mama program attended a retreat at Dream Cove, Pango. During this retreat, the mamas participated in a women’s circle and mediation session led by Chanelle Bjornum of Tehya Skye, leaving the mamas feeling more deeply connected to themselves and each other. Afterwards the single mothers had a color therapy session led by the gallivanting goddess that is JoJo Vanuatu, who is a boutique fashion designer specializing in silk dye pieces, and the day ended with the mamas having the gift of being able to create their own individual unique silk scarves with the guidance of JoJo. Thank you Chanelle and Jojo for holding space and bringing out the magic in each of the mamas!
On the 17th of July, the participants created their art pieces expressing their journey as a single mama with the support of the incredibly talented Carole Recrouex, and we kindly received donations of paper to paint on from Top Signs. These art pieces will be displayed at the exhibition at Alliance Francaise on the 17th to the 20th of August, and we can’t wait to see you there!
Sista Gat Style – Life & Style Magazine
On the month of our Independence anniversary, we celebrated Elisa Mondou. Hailing from the Banks Islands, Elisa keeps herself busy studying Psychology and Social Work at USP and working in the community as an advocate for women’s rights and mental health. She enjoys gardening, photography, writing and hanging out with her friends in her down time. While Elisa loves her studies and work, she is also a firm believer in taking time for self-discovery and self-care in order to find her place in the world. Elisa says, “Accepting myself in all my phases is one thing I love about myself because it’s not easy to admit we have flaws. I allow God to continue to shape and mold me.”
Thank you for inspiring us Elisa!
Planning and Preparation
Reforming the Maintenance of Children Act (MCA), PPAC RRT
When we applied for PPAC last year, our goal was to advocate for reform of MCA and demonstrate the lack of support to single mothers by identifying and working with stakeholders who work with single mothers, and collecting data related to MCA.
After doing our initial scope of identifying stakeholders, the Vanuatu Law Reform Commission (VLRC) welcomed our campaign idea and told us we did not need to do a petition to advocate for reform for MCA, as the government is already committed to law reform, as part of the (yet to be endorsed) National Gender Equality Policy 2021-2030 (NGEP).
The project included background research on the Act and its requirements, consultations with single mothers on the accessibility of the Act’s procedures and the adequacy of support provided under the Act, and consultations were conducted with partners and stakeholders on the reform process.
Key issues identified in the project included:
- The established amount of support under the act of 1000 vatu a week does not cover the cost of the care, upbringing and schooling of a child today
- The proceedings are unduly slow and cumbersome, and place a disproportionate burden on the applicant
Based on the consultations and further research on the key issues, Sista developed a recommendations report with the support of Gender Economist volunteer Caroline Hughes and our partner HCDI (Human Capacity Development International). Sista is now working with the Department of Women’s Affairs, Ministry of Justice and the Vanuatu Law Reform Commission to continue to build off recommendation from the report and is currently working on detailed workplan to submit to PPAC to receive our next grant. Thank you PPAC for your support in our advocacy work.
Young Women’s Leadership Program, Co-Implementation workshop with CARE
On the 15th of July, the Executive Director, Senior Project Officer and Communications, Advocacy & Events Officer visited the CARE office to sit down with the GET team (Gender Equality Team) to discuss our collaboration on implementing the 4th cycle of the Young Women’s Leadership Program (YWLP). We have also been busy liaising with CARE on the GO! Cyber project to develop a series of video clips which will be produced in August with Markson Taiki.
What is the Young Women Leadership Program (YWLP)?
YWLP funded with the generous support of the Australian Government, is a 12-month program for emerging leaders that builds leadership skills through workshops, partnership with an experienced mentor, participation in small group action projects, internships and connection with a growing network of passionate young women working towards gender equality across Vanuatu. This cycle will be co-delivered by Sista and CARE Vanuatu. This program will support 50 emerging young women leaders aged between the ages of 18-30. This cohort will include 40 young women based in Port Vila and 10 young women from Tanna to take part.
‘Yumi Gat Style’ Fashion show, Ambassade de France
On Thursday 23rd September 2021, Sista will hold it’s first ever fashion show with the support of Ambassade de France. The goal of this project is to empower women and girls through a fashion show, build the capacity of the fashion industry including the handicraft sector and transform public perceptions of Melanesian beauty with a strong focus on Ni-Vanuatu culture.
Unlike other similar events in the past, this event would focus on design and creativity rather than emulate a beauty pageant. By focusing on celebrating Ni-Vanuatu fashion through culture and art, rather than centering it on beauty, the fashion show would enable an environment to boost the fashion industry, showcase the products of the handicraft sector and simultaneously encourage Ni-Vanuatu women to claim space and present themselves in a way that is positive and culturally appropriate.
The Vanuatu Skills Partnership (VSP) has been identified as a key partner to support the objectives of the fashion show. The show provides an opportunity to showcase handicraft products that include accessories such as jewelry, bags and hats that meet both international and domestic demand and quality standards, while maintaining respect for culture and tradition.
Our objectives are:
- To build capacity of local fashion designers
- To celebrate Ni-Vanuatu culture through fashion and accessories
- To showcase local handicraft products and diversify market access
- To empower women and men and promote body positivity
- To transform perceptions of fashion and beauty
Next month we meet with the designers and models….. stay tuned to find out more!
‘Strong Mama’ Exhibition, FRIDA FUND
Our ‘Strong Mama’ exhibition is coming up on the 17th to the 20th of August! Our team have been hard at work preparing and organizing this upcoming event, which will be held at Alliance Francaise. Our program participants have already done their artwork to display and so have some other mothers that wanted to create something for the exhibition. We can’t wait to see everyone’s art pieces all come together!
‘Journey To Change – Vanuatu Storian on GBV’ Spotlight Initiative
Sista and HCDI (Human Capacity Development International) have received a grant from Spotlight Initiative to use Pacific-based storian methods to raise GBV awareness and promote change.
What is the project?
This project is called ‘Journey to Change – Vanuatu Storian on GBV’ and focuses on storytelling or ‘storian’ or ‘talanoa’, which is an embedded part of Pacific culture and Indigenous cultures generally, as an alternative, effective tool for raising GBV awareness and promoting change. This project focuses on the “journey to change” to show the path to change and its challenges, based on the stories of those on the path: survivors, health and justice officers, community helpers, and reformed offenders.
Underlying the journey will be the message of a healthy and peaceful society as a viable and much needed alternative to the violence currently faced by women, and how, working together, we can attain this.
Stories will be collected from varied groups, including GBV survivors, reformed perpetrators, assistance providers, and community leaders to show what has and what has not worked, and what can and what must happen to create change. We will be producing a documentary and illustrated booklet, and are currently conducting research and preparing to meet with stakeholders. The first activity we have done this month is meet with Dr. Astrid Kersten from HCDI who implemented a training workshop on how to conduct interviews effectively and with sensitivity.
Online training Podcasting for Women’s Empowerment, PACMAS ABC
From the 19th to the 23rd of July, our team attended Podcast training via zoom with Mike Williams, a documentary and podcast producer from ABC. Participants included partners from the We Rise Coalition. On the Monday and Tuesday sessions we learned about the key opportunities and principles of podcasting. For the rest of week, the sessions were more skills-focused and design. We can’t wait to launch this podcast that will speak to the modern Pacific woman.
Sista Finance Update
Given that Sista only received its first grant last year, this year is the first time that we’ve had to provide financial reports and it has definitely been a challenge. Thankfully we are up for a challenge with our incredible Program Manager, Irene Abbock, tasked to manage not only programs, but also our finances and administration! At the end of June, we had to provide reports to CARE and PPAC, as well as to the New Zealand High Commission for the Sista Stanap Strong anthology launch.
In the midst of preparing all these financial reports, Sista welcomed our new finance officer Iline Johnson who basically was thrown into the deep end! She has swum to the other side, and we are relieved the financial reporting is over, but there is still a lot of work to be done, as we have also begun the process of setting up our financial and admin systems with the support of Arise, our Finance Consultant that has been recruited and paid for by CARE. Talk about a busy, crazy month!
Ananda Yoga Lunch
‘You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.’
And because we know it can get crazy busy in our office, we make sure that we take time out for SELF-CARE! We have partnered with Ananda Yoga and Healing Center to provide our team with yummy healthy food and access to yoga and healing services. It’s an every day commitment to self-improve (and it is not easy to hold yourself accountable to your toxic ways), but we know that showing up for ourselves, means we can show up for the women of Vanuatu. Thank you Tu for holding space for us and sharing tools with us so we can heal.