Mrs. Rose Jimmy (left) and Mrs. Leisavi Joel during their Talanoa session yesterday. Photo: VFD

Representatives from community groups and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from across the region, gathered in Nouméa to take part in the 3rd regional Community-Based Fisheries Dialogue on November 14-15, 2023.

This occurred as part the 6th Regional Technical Meeting on Coastal Fisheries and Aquaculture (RTMCFA), hosted by the Pacific Community (SPC).

The dialogue provides a space for communities from across the region to share their views on issues relating to their coastal fisheries.

During the second day of this meeting, Mrs. Leisavi Joel and Mrs. Rose Jimmy from the Havana Tasivanua Environment and Climate Action Network held a ‘Talanoa’ (shared their experience) session in front of an audience of over 100 participants from the Pacific.

Mrs. Joel and Mrs. Jimmy were part of a special session organised by SPC and the University of Wollongong that discussed the importance of including voices from women alongside men in Community-Based Fisheries Management (CBFM).

The growing collaboration between the Vanuatu Fisheries Department (VFD) and Vanua-Tai Resource Monitors Network was critical to making their participation possible.

Following a panel of four speakers from Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, Mrs. Joel shared, with passion and emotion, her personal experience and journey as a woman representative from her community working on sustainable fisheries management.

“It is hard work for a woman to be actively involved in a male dominated area in the community, when it comes down to decision-making in our community, at the end of the day we have to look at the chief for his support,” she said.

In regard to getting recognition from the community leaders, she added, “Sometimes the chief just sees us as a sister, aunty, mother or grandmother and nothing more, even though I am involved actively with our coastal and environmental activities inside the community.”

Mrs. Joel and Mrs. Jimmy are the first women to hold a ‘Talanoa’ session during such a regional meeting and were widely appreciated.

The session has demonstrated its value as a way to bring community voices to the regional leaders in coastal fisheries.

The duo continued to actively participate during the 2-day discussion and want their experiences to set an example for other women in Vanuatu to become active members of CBFM committees in their community, with the support of men leaders.