John Stephen, founder of Surfvanuatu and long-term volunteer at the Vanuatu Surfing Association, is using his voice to leverage support, equal inclusion and advocate for zero tolerance of any forms of violence within the surfing community.
25-year-old John was given the opportunity to attend a child protection policy training through the Vanuatu Surfing Association in 2015. The course helped him to realise how society currently treats girls and women, how often men look down upon women and girls and treat them as if they are different.
He began to travel overseas for surfing contests and he observed how women and men worked together and treated each other equally. “Travelling overseas and attending these kind of programs changed my perception and with this I also changed my attitude and practises and began to treat women and girls as equals, both in the water and out”.
Now John works with Solwota Sista, the Vanuatu Surfing Association and his own business Surfvanuatu to develop women and girls surfing in Pango and throughout the islands.
“I want to work towards being a good role model and showing the other boys and men that if I can be a good surfer, compete in professional events and be a strong and equal leader than so can they.”
John believes that if he works with males in the community, particularly boys and the younger generation he can begin to transform the way in which women and girls are discriminated against in every day society.
This article was originally published in the Vanuatu Daily Post