The constitution of the newly-formed, Leleon Vanua Party, was signed by the members of the Interim Executive Committee of the party at a small ceremony on Thursday evening at the office of the Vanuatu Society for Disabled People (VSDP) in Port Vila.

The Leleon Vanua Party (LVP) was launched at the end of a two-day Influencing Forum for Women and the five-day National Conference of the Vanuatu National Council of Women (VNCW) at Mele village in mid-May. The two meetings brought together over 100 women leaders from throughout Vanuatu and Port Vila to discuss a way forward for women participation in the national decision-making processes of Vanuatu, supported financially by Oxfam.

The constitution of the LVP was finalized after a number of sessions by the members of the national executive of VNCW, the umbrella organization of women and girls in Vanuatu and representatives of the Civil Society Influencing Network for Women in Parliament and their stakeholders and Oxfam this week to finalize the constitution.

The constitution was signed by the Interim President, Merilyn Temakon, Interim President, Vice President – Letty Kaltonga; Secretary General – Hilda Lini; Assistant SG – Mary Jack; Treasurer – Nicole Kalo; Assistant Treasurer – Pastor Ruth Fred; Wendy Garae on behalf of Advisor, VNCW.

The Leleon Vanua Party is a party for the women of Vanuatu and membership is open to all women and men. But one article of the constitution restricts office bearers of the party and contesting of elections for Parliament and other decision-making institutions to women.

The following is the structure of the LVP, reading from (top to bottom): 123 delegates making up the National Women’s Congress; 28 NEC members, making up the National Executive Committee; 10-member Executive Council, a Port Vila-based Executive Committee; a Secretariat with a staff of 4; 18 Heads of Delegations or Constituency Coordinating Committees; 95 Area Committees (ACC); Working Committees or Sub Area Coordinating Committees; Working Units or Village Units; and Citizens who are Voters.

Speaking after the signing, the Interim President, Mrs. Temakon, thanked everyone involved – VNCW, members of the Coalition for Gender Equality for Women in Parliament, and Oxfam for their input and their dedication.

“From tomorrow on, there will be a lot of work and many challenges, but we’ve come this far after the launching of the party and let’s be strong and stay united for our purpose.”

Speaking on behalf of the President of VNCW, Anita Deroin, Executive Director of VNCW Leiasmanu Cullwick congratulated the Interim President and her Interim Committee members for this progress and said: “Today is an historic day and tomorrow the walk which our women have dreamt of since independence and the founding of VNCW continues to achieve 50% gender equality in Parliament.”

“A new dawn has broken,” Jeannette Lini Bolenga of Oxfam said adding: “now we are being watched by the Pacific and the world, so let’s look after our new born baby as it grows.”

“Oxfam are happy to assist the women grow as they travel this road, and as I’ve said, Oxfam are here for the long haul. So, the challenge for you is to take the plunge and take the women of Vanuatu along the road now set for them.”

“Are you really here to make a change, are you committed?” Mrs. Jeannette Lini Bolenga asked and called on everyone to unite with one voice and move forward on this road now taken.