May was probably the most intense month we have had this year. Covid restrictions were lifted and it meant we were able to implement all our awaited projects – but everything seemed to happen all at once! Within one week, we launched our newly revamped website and released our first episode of ‘The Round Table’ as well launched the ‘Stanap Strong’ website, which is a resource hub for GBV resources. While implementing projects, we also overcame Cyclone Gina, half the team falling sick to the flu and have been on a mission to find a HR consultant (thanks to the support of CARE) while preparing for the restructure of a new board. As we approach the middle of 2022, our team continues to overcome challenges and obstacles like champs, and we are looking forward to slowing down in June and July to prepare for new projects. 




The Round Table, We Rise Coalition and PACMAS

On May 15, Sista launched the first episode of its brand new podcast – The Round Table. This has not been an easy feat, with Matakambu Productions coming in more than a handful of times to provide support for the team and almost a dozen practice runs before we finally managed to get the confidence to do the first episode! 

In this first episode our guest Justine Pikioune explored ‘Personal Image’ with our hosts – Sharon and Umi. The topic explored the different versions women and girls here in Vanuatu have depending on who they are with and where they are and understanding what it feels like to be living up to an expectation and balancing personal beliefs along with cultural values.

On May 31 we released the 2nd episode which was based on ‘Embracing Natural Beauty with guest Irene Abbock who talks about what it means to be a proud Pacific islander of Melanesian traits and how she embraces herself more now with self-love and acceptance.

Listen to both episodes HERE.


Sista Gat Style, Vanuatu Daily Post


Jeans and T-shirt by Gilbert Mermer Iata – G&M

For National Women’s Day, we celebrate Vasemaca Justine Pikoune who embodies what it means to be a modern Pacific woman – mother, student, wife, professional, community leader – with grace and style. 

Having a baby at a young age and still acquiring her bachelor’s degree, Vasemaca is someone who appreciates kastom and culture but is also very progressive. A true lover of fashion, Vasemaca puts in the work when it comes to her clothes and accessories, even going as far as designing most of her outfits herself, all the while balancing her family life as well as her work life. 

Vasemaca lives by the quote; “Dream it, believe it, achieve it!”


Young Women Writer’s Workshop, We Rise Coalition


On Tuesday 17th May, Sista held a writer’s workshop for aspiring young women writers at Alliance Francaise.

The workshop was led by accomplished author Rebecca Tobo Olul-Hossen who has just returned from being a guest at the Brisbane Writers Festival, and supported by the fabulous Sarah Freeman from GATE MINDS who shared insight on the role of language to create imagery as well as the power of persuasion.


“Women’s Wisdom” exhibition featured at Alliance Française’ annual ‘Artistes Femmes’ Exhibition, We Rise Coalition


Sista’s wall of display at the exhibition. Photo: Blue Tree Production

On Friday 13th May, the annual ‘Artistes Femmes’ held to commemorate International Women’s Day by Alliance Francaise (Link) finally opened up to the public after being postponed due to Vanuatu’s first community transmission.

The opening speech was conducted by Busi Vasconcellos and closed by Irene Abbock, Sista’s Program and Finance Manager, who reflected on lockdown and the impacts of COVID 19, and how this affected women differently than men, including higher rates of violence, more stress due to competing responsibilities of household chores and livelihood, and a need for women to be in leadership to ensure women’s voices are heard in decision making.


Sista’s Program & Finance Manager Irene Abbock delivering a speech on behalf of Sista at the event. Photo: Blue Tree Production

Irene promoted the importance of women’s voices being heard not only in decision making, but also in exchanging ideas and knowledge with each other. This was the premise for the Women’s Wisdom  exhibition which encouraged older women to share their knowledge with younger women through postcards and to kickstart intergenerational dialogue.


‘Stanap Strong’ Website Launch, Spotlight Initiative 


On Friday 13 May, Sista and HCDI with the support of the EU-funded Spotlight Initiative created and launched the new ‘Stanap Strong’ website. This website pays tribute to the relentless work of Vanuatu activists, women’s movements and grassroots organisations, and civil society organisations, by showcasing their knowledge, experience, and leadership in ending violence against women and girls. It was officially launched by the Acting Director Seman Dalesa, Department of Women’s Affairs and was widely supported by stakeholders working in the space of EVAWG. 

It was incredibly challenging to collect resources in the aftermath of Vanuatu’s first community outbreak, with limited movement and closed offices. It required a lot of follow up emails and phone calls, as well as time spent on re-writing hard copies of brochures, reports and other important documents as the soft copies were lost. We also had to scan hard copies as they were no longer available, with this tedious process only serving to remind us the importance of keeping resources in one space so we do not lose them. 

Link to website:


Newly revamped website, We Rise Coalition


On May 15, National Women’s Day, we launched our new website! It is a space of Information, Empowerment and Advocacy for the women and girls of Vanuatu. Here you will find everything from the latest work we are doing with the support of our partners , articles promoting feminism in the Pacific, wellbeing and self-care, and the latest fashion feature celebrating incredible women in Sista Gat Style, as well as episodes of our new Podcast, The Round Table, where young women ask the questions you’ve always wanted to ask as a young Pacific woman navigating modern life in the islands. 

In the website you can find help and resources in the Sista Library which contain Gender Related reports, legislation, policies and referral systems and the newly launched resource hub ‘Stanap Strong Akensem Vaelens’ that contains resources from organisations working towards eliminating GBV in Vanuatu.

Sista would like to thank We Rise Coalition for making this new website possible. 


Planning and preparation


Sexual Harassment Survey, FWRM through European Development Fund

In early May, Sista disseminated a survey through social media for people to participate on a survey on Sexual Harassment. The Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry also supported the dissemination of the survey through their social media networks and newsletter, and we also conducted phone and face-to-face individual interviews.

The objective was to understand the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace. We received 62 responses and the information collected will be used to help us design and implement changes to protect women’s rights in Vanuatu. All information was kept confidential.

This work is supported by the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement through the European Development Fund under the project- Safe Workplaces: Translating commitments into meaningful change for Pacific Women.


‘Rod blong Jenis’ booklet and merchandise, Spotlight Initiative


This month we designed (and redesigned – then redesigned again!) a booklet featuring the statements of the male champions of change for our 16 Days of Activism campaign held last year in 2021 in partnership with HCDI and the Ministry of Justice.


We also developed keychains, stickers and tote bags which we managed to have ready in time for the ‘Stanap Strong’ website launch. Unfortunately we needed to redesign the booklet several times and by the time it was ready to go into print – the team at the printers fell ill with that awful flu going around and delayed distribution. We are hoping to distribute the booklets and merchandise to stakeholders and beneficiaries by June! 


MOJCS restructure interviews

Sista and a team of USP students have been conducting interviews to understand the restructure of Ministry of Justice and Community Services into a Ministry of Ocean. The information collected will inform a series of 4 articles to be printed in the Vanuatu Daily Post newspaper that explores why this restructure is taking place, what are the priorities of Ministry of Ocean and where the departments under the Ministry of Justice will be placed.


Pacific Feminist Forum 


Sista was honored to join the first meeting of the 3rd Pacific Feminist Forum – PFF Working Group that was held virtually yesterday with various partners from across the Pacific.

The PFF Working Group represents different feminist organisations across the Pacific Region including Samoa, Tonga, PNG, Vanuatu and Fiji. For the first time ever we have representatives from Palau and Kiribati.

The 3rd Pacific Feminist Forum is supported by the Australian Government through the We Rise Coalition and the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative Regional Programme.


Supporting Pacific Women in Media, ABCID

Sista has participated in a series of workshops to design a project for Pacific women in the media by ABCID. This project began by inviting several women from across the Pacific who work in the media to articulate their vision for supporting women in their industry. Stay tuned to see what the outcome will be!




Training of Trainers: STOP Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, FWRM


Sista was pleased to have joined the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement Regional. About 12 participants from Fiji and across the region are attending in both face to face and virtual mode, sessions will include testing participant’s current knowledge about sexual harassment, sharing the various research done by FWRM on sexual harassment, group activities and discussions amongst others. 

The overall objective of the training is to expand the pools of resource persons in the Pacific Island Region who can conduct Sexual Harassment trainings and provide technical assistance in their own individual countries. 

Additionally, the training will also strengthen the ability of individuals and organisations to apply International human rights norms in the domestic context.

The training is supported by the Australian Government through the We Rise Coalition.


SOGIE Workshop


Our Communications, Advocacy & Events Officer attended VPride’s workshop to grow our understanding of SOGIE and explore Stigma and Discrimination in accessing public services, and best practices toward SOGIE.

The workshop was funded by UNDP and APTC and held on the 10th and 12th of May 2022 at The Grand, Port Vila.


Participatory Action Research (PAR) Mid term review, CARE

On 6th May, the ED spoke with a consultant from CARE to reflect on the progress of the PAR component of “Laef Blong Mi, Vois Blong Mi”, an Australian government funded project under the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Program’s Pacific Girl initiative, and how we can ramp up advocacy work in the future. The three-year project (2019 – 2022) is implemented by CARE Vanuatu and works closely with partners including the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) and is implemented through secondary schools in Tafea province.

Sista co-implemented a component PAR with the intended outcome of having community leaders and service providers listen to, recognize and act on adolescent girl’s needs and priorities.


Virtual Midwifery event, Australian Catholic University

On Tuesday 31st May, the ED was invited to speak at a virtual event held by the Australian Catholic University to familiarize midwife students on women’s issues in Vanuatu. The ED spoke on issues affecting women in Vanuatu and the importance of women’s leadership to ensure infrastructure such as hospitals and basic services related to women’s health is prioritized. The absence of women in these decision making spaces affects the ability of nurses and midwives to effectively do their work as they need appropriate resources and infrastructure to enable meaningful women-centered service delivery.