Sabrina Brown, Vanuatu Young Women For Change, attends 13th Pacific Triennial

The 13th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and 6th Meeting of Ministers for Women took place in Suva, Fiji, from 2 to 5 October 2017.  The purpose of the Conference was to share experiences and make recommendations to accelerate progress towards achieving gender equality and a full realisation of women’s human rights in the Pacific region.

It was the first time for many of the Ni-Vanuatu delegation to attend a Triennial. Sista caught up with the Ni-Vanuatu representatives of civil society and asked them to share their thoughts on women’s economic empowerment, which was the theme of the Triennial. 

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Sabrina Brown, Vanuatu Young Women For Change

Sabrina Brown, Vanuatu Young Women For Change

 Mi wan single mother so tingting blong mi hemi vois blong ol young mama wea i gat pikinini. Mi tink se biggest barrier long saed blong women’s economic empowerment hemi access to finance. Now ia hemi gat ol micro schemes wea I kam insaed long Vanuatu. Hemi really gud from hemi save helpem ol mama blong makem wan business but hemi gat big interest wea yu mas pem bak.

Hemi very stressful long ol mama taem hemi mas pem bak ol interest from hemi bigwan tumas. I gud sapos i gat ol scheme wea ol mama hemi no gat need blong pem bak bigfala interest.

Mi stap wok insaed long wan private health clinic and mi luk se I gat fulap mama, young and old, wea olgeta hemi gat high blood pressure.

Yumi stap tink se hemi gat high blood pressure from ol kai kai, be taem yu toktok wetem olgeta, mifala findem aot se hemi no kai kai nomo. Olgeta hemi gat high blood pressure from olgeta hemi gat stress blong pem bak ol interest long ol scheme afta mental health blong olgeta hemi no gud.

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Sabrina with Vanuatu delegation in main conference room at Triennial

Mi wantem se government hemi mas traem supportem ol mama wetem wan scheme wea hemi savem helpem olgeta blong growem business blong olgeta mo luk aot gud ol family. Hemi gud tu sapos ol mama hemi save gat training blong managem ol business so olgeta hemi gat peace and security.

Long mi, peace hemi meanem happiness long wan haos mo long wan wok ples. Taem bae mifala tok tok long saed blong economics, long mi, hemi meanem finance. Finance hemi meanem security.

Ol mama hemi gat expectation blong puttem kai kai long table and I gat some man wea hemi stap pushem ol mama blong makem sua se I gat kai kai. I gat fulap mama wea man blong hem I talem long hem se hemi mas makem garden blong kai kai mo karem money blong pem skul fee.

Ol mama hemi stap wok hard blong luk aot ol family be ol man hemi no stap ting ting blong security blong ol family blong hem. I have seen it – this is the real life of Vanuatu.

Sapos wan man or boyfriend hemi save se woman blong hem I karem wan loan blong wan scheme, man ia hemi talem long woman se hemi mas karem money ia blong makem half half wetem hem.

At the end of the day, it’s the women who are trying their best to make sure there is food on the table, a roof over our head and school fees are paid. Sapos hemi karem wan loan, now ia hemi gat wan narafala responsibility blong pem bak ol loan. Be lo haos, hemi gat fulap wok wea hemi mas makem tu olsem clean, cook, karem wota, luk aot pikinini.

Afta bae yu luk se husband hemi just ting bout kava nomo from society expectation hemi stap talem se hemi responsibility blong ol mama nomo blong luk aot ol family. Hemi wan big problem.

Hemia now why mi wantem se government hemi mas recognizem unpaid wok blong ol woman. Afta hemi makem mo esi blong helpem ol woman.

I gud sapos I gat wan scheme wea hemi recognizem ol issues wea ol woman hemi stap facem insaed long policy blong olgeta. For example, ol scheme hemi mas save se I gat sam mama wea hemi mas askem permission blong man blong hem bifo hemi save karem wan loan. Afta I gat sam mama wea man blong hem I stap force blong giv half half long hem.

Ol scheme hemi mas save ol social issues blong makem sua se process hemi protectem ol mama. Hemi gud sapos ol scheme hemi save makem ol form hemi esi blong usem, makem interest hemi low mo recognizem se ol mama hemi gat fulap unpaid wok – just give wan opportunity blong ol mama blong liftem up laef blong olgeta wea i no gat stress.


Sabrina represents Vanuatu Young Women For Change and was sponsored by Care International to attend the Triennial

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  • Understanding popular political attitudes in Vanuatu

    The Pacific Attitudes Survey: Vanuatu gauges the views of ordinary ni-Vanuatu across a range of themes, including how ordinary citizens engage with and trust their political institutions; their broader understandings of democracy and tradition; and attitudes to key issues like climate change and labour mobility. This is the second Pacific Attitudes Survey (PAS), following the first survey in Samoa. The PAS was implemented nationwide in all six provinces, using face-to-face interviews with 1,330 randomly selected participants of voting age (18 years and over). Sampling reflected population proportions, like age and gender, drawn from the 2020 National Census. The findings detail an intriguing and complex picture of political and social attitudes, with a distinctive mix of democratic and traditional values in Vanuatu’s political culture. Here, we highlight six. First, findings demonstrate that ni-Vanuatu have a strong commitment to democracy. The PAS found that ni-Vanuatu share a strong preference for democracy over other alternatives. Similarly, and despite recent political turbulence, 84% of ni-Vanuatu were also satisfied with “the way democracy works” in Vanuatu compared to only 15% who were not. This might be seen as noteworthy, given repeated votes of no-confidence in and around the survey period. However, while short-term political instability like that which characterised the data collection period is not unusual, the overall resilience of Vanuatu’s democratic system may explain the strong commitment to and support for democracy among its citizens. Second, politics is generally conceptualised and practised through local and traditional, rather than national, pathways. Ni-Vanuatu place a “great deal of trust” in church leaders (82%) first and foremost. This was followed by chiefs (79%). Respondents reported lower levels of trust in political parties (38%). While 34% of respondents reported talking to their MP at least once over the last three years, more than half of respondents (54%) reported they had “got together with others to try resolve local problems”. This reflects the notion that while formal political engagement might be relatively low (at least outside of campaign periods), informal activities at the local level attract stronger engagement. This local emphasis is valued even in national politics, with respondents noting a preference for their MP to focus on “helping with community projects”, rather than promoting national development. Third, climate change is perceived as a lived reality and urgent issue in Vanuatu. An overwhelming majority of ni-Vanuatu believe that climate change is an urgent problem that should be addressed (81%). From the survey results, we see strong and clear expectations that large emitters should compensate the most affected nations; that the national government should actively manage adaptation efforts; and that communities have a responsibility to accept displaced people from other areas. Fourth, there was widespread support for labour mobility schemes, although there are concerns about the impact on families. A significant majority of respondents agreed that Pacific labour schemes have been both a positive for the nation (85%) and for their community (76%) overall. The biggest benefit participants noted was an “improvement to their household income” (64%) while 60% believed that “worse family relations” was the biggest negative consequence of participation in labour schemes. Fifth, there are noticeable inequalities in access to politics, with women far less likely to participate in both formal and traditional political spaces than men. Men (78%) were significantly more likely to report being interested in politics than women (56%). They were also more likely to report having engaged in political activity in the past three years. Intergenerational changes were also evident, with older generations more likely to exert political influence than younger generations. While respondents demonstrated widespread support for greater women’s representation in politics in principle, the survey showed that social norms of political leadership still favour men. Finally, both China and Australia are seen to have a lot of influence on the Pacific and Vanuatu specifically. China was regarded as the country with the most influence in the Pacific (42%), with Australia (35%) following close behind. Both China (78%) and Australia (76%) were seen as having a “great deal of influence” on Vanuatu itself, followed by New Zealand (62%), France (55%) and the US (41%). The results of the PAS suggest ni-Vanuatu citizens have a broadly positive view of international influence, and of development assistance. The PAS represents the first nationally representative popular political attitudes survey conducted in Vanuatu. It provides important data on attitudes towards democracy, development, gender, climate change, labour mobility, and international relations at an important juncture in Vanuatu’s history. The format of the PAS also allows for comparison — regionally through the previous PAS survey in Samoa, and internationally through the modules adapted from the Global Barometer Survey. The PAS Vanuatu both closes a data gap and provides a platform for further research on political attitudes and participation in Vanuatu and the broader Pacific region. Disclosure: This research was supported by the Pacific Research Program, with funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and The Asia Foundation. The views are those of the authors only. This article appeared first on Devpolicy Blog (devpolicy.org), from the Development PolicyCentre at The Australian National University. Kerryn Baker is a Fellow at the ANU Department of Pacific Affairs. Michael Leach is a Professor in Politics and International Relations in the Department of Social Sciences at Swinburne University of Technology. Christopher Mudaliar is a Research Fellow at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. _______________________________________________________________________ SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST

  • Husband Threatens Life of Unborn Child and Mother Sentenced to 2 Years, 11 Months

    On the 10th of July 2024, Jean Luc Tevi pleaded guilty to three offenses against his de facto wife:          making a threat to kill          domestic violence          intentional assault. The offenses occurred after Tevi accused his wife of infidelity, resulting in physical assault and threats to kill her and her unborn child. He said, “Today bai mi kilim ded yutufala, bai mi katem ded Marie Rose afta mi kattem bel blo yum o kilim ded hemia istap long bel ia.” The reference to Marie Rose is to the daughter of his de facto partner, not a biological child of his, the reference to killing the unborn child came about because his de facto wife was six months pregnant. Mitigating factors         Tevi’s lack of prior criminal record and the 11 days spent in pre-sentence custody.          the court noted the seriousness of the offenses,         the repeated nature of the threats,         the consumption of kava and alcohol.  Tevi has been sentenced to 35 months and seven days in prison, with no suspension. _______________________________________________________________________ SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST

  • Heritage Mats Return

    50-year-old traditional mats or ‘bwana’ from the island of Ambae are currently on display at the Vanuatu Kaljarol Senta (VKS) after spending more than forty years in Canada. The mats were taken to Canada by Canadian researchers, Margaret Rodman and her husband Bill Rodman whilst working on the island of Ambae from 1970 to 1975. The bwana, which was given to the researchers as gifts while attending custom ceremonies on the island contain some rare patterns, which are no longer used on the island. Upon the mats returned to Vanuatu, VKS identified that the researchers, took 38 mats with them back to Canada after living and working in Wailegi village, on the East of Ambae. Evelyne Bulegih, the Coordinator for the Women’s Culture and Fieldworkers Program, said these mats which are now on display at the VKS exhibition foyer are from 5 categories of mats in Ambae. “There is bwan bubulu which is use for bargain and also for sleeping, bwan vivi is used for bargain during custom ceremonies and used by women as attires, sangule is the traditional attire for women, singo tuvegi is worn by men and women during pig killing ceremonies, and bwan hunhuni which used to cover a bride for her wedding,” Mrs. Bulegih explained. “On these mats, there are 7 different types of design used; the loloitavue, matainiaho, hule, tangwanibakeo, singo vavaho, singo volaiwalurigi, toliduledule.” Mrs. Bulegih said the Rodmans house the mats in their residence in Canada, and their old age, prompt them to send the bwanas back to their origin. The bwana from Ambae were returned to Vanuatu on the 10th of June 2024 and are on display at the VKS exhibition foyer until 31 July 2024. The islands of PENAMA Province used bwana in all of their cultural proceedings. One bwana’s monetary value is around VT1,000 to VT2,000. Its worth comes from the designs impose on the mats, the weaving patterns, and the length of a mat. Meanwhile, the Coordinator for the Women’s Culture and Fieldworkers Program states that the program is currently working with women in Pentecost to create different mats as an alternative for tourist souvenirs. Mrs. Bulegih explains that the commercialisation or selling of bwanas to tourist is causing a decline in the value of original bwana as weavers and designers of bwanas pay for rights through custom ceremonies for the use of their designs and patterns. “We are now working to create a standard mat which is 2 metres in length, with new designs and will be exclusively for selling to tourist,” she said. The Coordinator added that the lack of interest from girls and young women, to weave, and the bacterial infection of indigenous plant species used for dye poses a threat on the bwana or mats of PENAMA Province. _______________________________________________________________________ SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST

  • Seminar to better understand impacts of labour mobility on children

    The Vanuatu Government has been leading efforts to better understand the impacts of labour mobility on children. In partnership with the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), they will be hosting a seminar next week on protecting children in the context of labour mobility. The seminar is an opportunity to engage with government leaders from selected countries and a diverse group of stakeholders, to better understand the impacts of labour mobility on children that are left behind. Around 40 participants, including senior representatives from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Samoa will be attending the seminar from Tuesday to Wednesday. Representatives from faith-based and non-government organisations, including from Papua New Guinea, regional organisations, academic institutions, bilateral and development partners will also participate. They will be briefed on the findings of an initial study on the impacts of children left behind, in four Pacific countries-Vanuatu, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Fiji. They will reflect the findings and recommendations for improved child protection, and an agreement on way forward. This study is conducted in partnership with the University of the South Pacific, Western Sydney University key government partners and UNICEF. There will be panel discussions on child protection in the Pacific and labour mobility in the Pacific on Tuesday after the opening remarks from Vanuatu’s Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Matai Seremaiah. The Pacific is witnessing increased migration and mobility, placing pressures on already stretched extended family care structures and formal services and support to children and their families, according to a joint statement. “Children are the future of the Pacific. Their environment directly impacts their wellbeing, as does the extent to which communities and duty bearers respond to potential risks,” the statement relayed. “The context in which children are growing up continues to change, with new challenges and opportunities to navigate. Therefore, the need to work together with children and their families, decision makers and other national and subnational stakeholders in strengthening preventive measures and responsive services is critical… “The seminar will also share information on related issues such as cost of violence and investment in children, learning on context and good practices including a focus on community protection and the role of churches as part of the prevention and response mechanism at all levels; and consider the connections between protection risks and investments required to adapt child protection systems to changes in the region. “The outcome will contribute to regional dialogues and discussions on human mobility and other agreed regional priorities; and inform the Pacific Child Wellbeing Summit that will be co-hosted by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and UNICEF in late 2024. “UNICEF’s Executive Director’s visit to Vanuatu will coincide with the seminar. This visit provides an opportunity to better understand national and regional priorities, challenges as well as good practices that build on the Pacific way, culture and values whose foundation is deeply rooted in the family and community; and dialogue with partners on global UNICEF priorities and ways of strengthening partnership.” _______________________________________________________________________ SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST

  • Vanuatu National Youth Council faces staff cuts and funding crisis, operations in jeopardy

    The Vanuatu National Youth Council (VNYC) has removed 3 of its staff since 2021 because there have been not enough funds to run its operations within the country. Speaking with the Vanuatu Daily Post on July 1, VNYC Principal Administrator, Joe Kalo, and current President Morry Ruben, revealed that the organisation is now left with two staffs who are on contract that will last till August this year. If there are no more funds, the office will cease to operate. It was also reported that the Youth Authority, which is to manage the funds in the VNYC, is not allowed to be in the retreat of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (MoYSD), to vent out some frustrations that VNYC has. “The voice of all the youths in the country comes from the VNYC, but they are not allowed in the Ministry retreat where they would represent the youth’s voice. The Ministry is operating without their input, especially in this year’s business,” Mr. Ruben told the Vanuatu Daily Post. “The Government can say that yes, there are fund, that go to the Ministry, but the body that govern the youths should have money to work on that can reach all the youths since the population of voter’s majority came out from the youths.” He added that despite consistently reporting back to the VNYC on time and supporting its programs by raising issues, the VNYC is struggling. Typically, an organisation like VNYC should operate with an annual budget of VT30 million to VT20 million, but it is currently operating with less than VT10 million. Although VNYC is one of the largest organisations in Vanuatu by name, its current state does not reflect this stature. In regards to this, the VNYC National election have been delayed since the election of the Provincial Youth Committee in 2021 and 2022 due to lack of funds to ran the election. There were funds provided for the election, but VNYC has diverted the funds to pay for the staff salaries. “In the case where staff use other funds to pay wages, it is not an easy decision for the executive to do, try imagining living in Port Vila for two to three months without a salary, but you have a family and buy rent, and if the money came through for a specific program and no salary, we have to take the decision to keep the office in operation,” the VNYC said. “If we decided not to run the program, who will do it? The staffs are the ones who run the program, we the executive and president, we are volunteers.” The VNYC, under the MoYSD, was established in 2009 following demands from the youth. The MoYSD itself was formed in 2003 after consultations on government support for youth. Many recommendations focused on unemployment, capacity building, and training, leading the government to create the Ministry as an intermediary for training programs. The youths also demanded their own council and a Youth Act to govern government support for youth service providers and the Youth Council at the grassroots level. Consequently, the Youth Act was enacted in 2018. However, despite government funding, the financial support for the National Youth Council is insufficient, covering only basic operational costs of around two to five million. Proposals have been made to increase funding to cover both operational costs and provincial programs. According to VNYC Principal Administrator Kalo, the funding for the council has been inconsistent. In 2021 and 2022, the VNYC operated with the expectation that funding would continue, but this has not been the case. The plan to establish youth committees around the provinces is a step towards the next national election of the council. He said while the government shows a commitment to helping youths on paper, the reality does not match these promises, and the organisation of the VNYC has no internal revenues to follow its constitution that is in place. “Such things like elections must be in process, and if we want to make things to work, the election must be on time, but in reality the Government support is another thing which is beyond our control,” Mr. Kalo said. “There were many disruptions in terms of funding that came in the VNYC, which delayed the election. “So while it is important to conduct the election, it is also important to keep the office operating, so we have to choose whether to conduct the elections or run the office, these are some of the problems the council faces.” He added that often, they run out of salary for two to three months, leaving outstanding payments. When funds do come in, they face the dilemma of whether to use them to pay the staff ensuring operations run smoothly or to spend the money on programs, potentially neglecting office operations. The MoYSD was contacted for comments but has yet to respond. _______________________________________________________________________ SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST

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