A book called ‘Nation Builders: Celebrating Women in Private Sector’ in Vanuatu was launched on Thursday this week at the Tana Russet Plaza, Port Vila.

It was published by the Australian-funded program Balance of Power (BOP), in partnership with the Department of Women’s Affairs, the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the Sista organisation.

A photo exhibition of the women in the book was also displayed during the launching, showcasing the pictures and stories of these 40 women in the private sector and their contributions to the development of Vanuatu.

Program Administrator of BOP, Telstar Jimmy, in her speech during the launch, mentioned that they had a public call out for nominations and had a committee who made the final selection of the 40 women to be in the book.

“We are grateful to the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry for giving us names to consider for the book,” she said.

“We also want to appreciate Sista and the amazing team that worked with them for the interviews, research, transcription, writing, editing, photography, graphic design and eventually the printing of the books and portraits that you see here today.

“It was not an easy journey, and some of the women featured were also in outer islands, and we have had to postpone the launch twice. But we felt that we had to give it our best, because these amazing women deserve it.”

The Program Administrator also said that people may ask why they do this, but it is nothing more than demonstrating that women have the leadership qualities, that women have already achieved so much, and all we need to do is tell their stories.

“We live in a time where so much negativity is floating around, people’s morals tend to drop, and we ask ourselves if we are enough, if we can, if we are really moving towards a purpose or fulfilling certain goals,” Mrs. Jimmy said.

“But as we celebrate these 40 amazing women in the private sector tonight (and many others whose faces are not on these walls tonight), and as you walk around tonight, may their smiles uplift us, may their stories inspire us, and may this celebration be a reminder to renew our belief in the positivity that surrounds us.”

Australian High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Ms Heidi Bootle, was also present during the launch. She stated that the advancement of gender equality and promotion of women in leadership are central pillars of Australia’s foreign policy.

“Across all sectors of society there is a lot of work to be done to achieve our shared goals of gender equality and tonight’s event embodies that ambition,” said Commissioner Bootle.

She also said that this marks the second volume in the Nation Builders series, which honors remarkable women leaders of Vanuatu.

The first volume celebrated 43 admirable female public sector leaders, while this second volume documents the stories of 40 women who have greatly contributed to national and community development through their work in the private sector.

“The private sector plays a vital role in modern economies — it creates jobs, delivers access to much needed goods and services, contributes to tax revenue and stimulates overall economic growth — it is the engine of growth for many countries like Vanuatu,” she said.

“The importance of women’s leadership in the private sector is proven, — multiple studies have demonstrated that companies that have women in leadership positions experience improved performance, productivity and profitability.

“Australia stands with the Vanuatu government and all stakeholders working to see more female leaders in Vanuatu — this is in line with Vanuatu’s National Gender Equality Policy and National Sustainable Development Plan — Australia’s new international development policy which places gender equality at the heart of our global aid program.”

Newly appointed Minister for Trade and Commerce, Anatole Hymack was present to officially launch the book and portraits, alongside Australian High Commissioner Bootle and the VCCI President, Antoine Boudier.

“This event and product focus on showcasing the lives and journeys of these women in overcoming barriers around social norms and others in their field of expertise,” said Minister Anatole.

“I congratulate all the women who have come forward to tell us their stories of business success and their greater opportunities ahead.”

VCCI’s President Boudier stated that the stories on these collections demonstrate the possibility, recognised and celebrated women contribution in private sectors to develop the growth of Vanuatu’s economy.

”We will read stories with familiar themes because these women are our sisters, mothers, aunts, and grandmothers.

“We will read stories about women who are pioneers in their fields, high achievers who have accomplished significant feats, and who are passionate about both business and community development,” he said.

The night ended with copies of the books being given out to all the women who were featured in the book, and their family members who were present.

The photo exhibition is on display at the Tana Russet Plaza for the next two weeks for the public to view.




Check out the Photos from the launch HERE