Vanuatu’s first woman member of parliament, Hilda Lini, has called on women throughout the country to unite with a purpose to forge ahead and play their part meaningfully in national decision making through parliamentary participation.
She made the call to mark the 38th anniversary of the Vanuatu National Council of Women (VNCW), which she helped found on May 15, 1980.
Addressing attendants at the commemoration ceremony at Saralana Park in Port Vila Tuesday, Ms. Lini reminded women of the struggles the women and girls endured during the pre and post- independence struggles that families went through.
“You know, our independence did not come easy, some of us did not want us to be independent and this led to a lot of disturbance in the families. Part of the country didn’t want to be independent and breakaway from the group. In the end the Kumul Force from Papua New Guinea was called in and helped quell the rebellion,” she said
“Both Francophone women and Anglophone women, we came together and decided to form the national women’s organization to help families.
“We saw the need for the women the step in and help families when the men were arrested and held in cells. Lesline Malsungai (who was elected the first President of VNCW) went to Malekula, where troubled had broken out and the men involved were arrested and taken away prison. She went and met with the women who were left behind.
“I went to Fanafo (headquarters of the breakaway movement led by Jimmy Stevens where many men were arrested and held in prison in Luganville) where I met with the wives of Jimmy Stevens and other women whose men were taken away.”
Now 38 years later, she said there is more need for women and girls throughout the country to remembers these sacrifices that the founders of VNCW went through and to unite so they can meaningfully for participate in the decision-making process in the Parliament of the country.
Lini joined the call made earlier that day by the Acting Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Nirua, and the same message was later echoed by the first President of VNCW Lesline Malsungai in her address.