A group of 30 women from Vanuatu have collaborated to publish the country’s first collection of contemporary creative writing by female authors.

The anthology, Sista Stanap Strong, is due to be released in May.

Contributor Telstar Jimmy said creative writing empowered women in Vanuatu, allowing them to address issues like gender equality and feminism.

“Vanuatu is a very male dominated society of people. And growing up being a girl is not easy for most of us. Oftentimes we feel neglected, we feel suppressed, we feel that we always the second priority,” she said.

“But now I feel that we should be speaking up more for the women and girls in our society.”

Ms Jimmy said she used writing and poetry to process emotions and significant life events.

“I started writing when I was 15. My mother left us and my parents got separated. I was really not good about being outspoken about my feelings back then,” she said.

“The only way was to put it down on paper. And so the first time I wrote was for my mother, it was called ‘Wishing You Were Here.

“People were reading it. And they were like, ‘you have a knack for writing, you should write some words’. And I’ve been writing poetry ever since.”

Co-editor and contributor Rebecca Olul said the team overcame significant challenges to compile the book.

“(One) was of course, the lack of publishing industry in Vanuatu but we were not gonna let that stop us. We were keen to, to find ways and to collaborate to get this out.”