Chief Motarilavoa Hilda Lini and Chief Vanuaroroa Ham Lini reflect on the words of their brother and Vanuatu’s first Prime Minister Father Walter Lini in a video message to mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence this year as Vanuatu celebrates 40 years of Independence. PHOTO: Ben + Gaga/Groovy Banana

“We have a saying in our language – ‘Tamata nu Muramuraga’– which means peace is powerful and respect is honourable,” says Chief Motarilavoa Hilda Lini in a video message set to be launched on Wednesday to mark the start of the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.

Chief Motarilovoa Hilda’s message is part of a video tribute to Vanuatu’s 40th Independence anniversary inspired by the words of the leader of the Independence movement and first Prime Minister of Vanuatu, late Father Walter Lini: “Rispek hemi honorabol”.

Over the next 16 days, a video message from 16 diverse people from across Vanuatu reflecting on Father Walter Lini’s famous words will be released each day on facebook.com/stanapstrong.

“Our father and mother taught us to respect peace at all times inside our home and inside our community,” says Chief Motarilovoa Hilda, one of the first female members of parliament and brother of Father Walter Lini. “I believe my brother used the foundation and principles that we learnt from our home to allow him to always stand up strong and respect everyone.”

The video series, produced by CARE Vanuatu and Sista with support from the Australian Government, the New Zealand Government and the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme, is part of Vanuatu’s annual 16 Days of Activism Stanap Strong Akensem Vaelens campaign.

President Obed Moses Talllis kicks off the campaign, which also features Chief Vanuaroroa Ham Lini, the Public Service Commission Chairman Simil Johnson, Dr Basil Leodoro, University of the South Pacific’s Naomi Bolenga, and rugby player Xiahou Faureua.

“Across every area of Vanuatu’s community, from government, to business, sport and the arts, people are standing up to take action against violence against women,” says CARE Vanuatu’s Country Director Megan Chisholm. “We are so proud to work together with our partners and this amazing group of Ni-Vanuatu people to share this important message.”

“I hope that these messages will speak to every person across Vanuatu and we will all stand in solidarity as a nation to end gender based violence for good,” says Yasmine Bjornum, Executive Director of Sista.

“Australia is committed to working with our partners in Vanuatu to support gender equality and women’s safety. Everyone has a right to be safe in their homes, communities, workplaces and online. These efforts are even more critical as we face the challenge of COVID-19 in our region,” says Australia’s High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Her Excellency Sarah deZoeten.

Watch the video series at facebook.com/stanapstrong.