Developed and managed by young local women surfers who have experienced first hand the challenges of being a surfer girl, Solwota Sista is empowering the surfing women of Vanuatu one wave at a time.
Surfing is steadily growing in the Pacific Island nation. Like Hawaii, Vanuatu has strong links to a history steeped in traditional surf culture. The past ten years, however, has seen a push towards a more modern style of surfing.
Meaning ‘sister of the ocean’ in Bislama, one of the official languages of Vanuatu, Solwota Sista – the women and girls’ branch of The Vanuatu Surfing Association – exists to promote the participation and standard of female surfing in Vanuatu, while providing opportunities for surf and non-surf related skill and knowledge development and inspiring confidence through surfing.
Although Vanuatu has been named the happiest country in the world multiple times this is often not the case for women and girls who are subject to high rates of abuse and violence and experience a significant imbalance in domestic duties.
The surfing sphere is no different and while The Vanuatu Surfing Association receives donated surfboards, fins and legropes it is often hard to ensure the equipment stays in the hands of the young girl surfers.
They recount stories of being teased in the water, of their brothers stealing their new surfboards and snapping them carelessly in the surf and of their mothers standing at the shoreline screaming for them to come in and finish their housework.
On Monday, as part of their International Day of The Girl celebrations, Solwota Sista ran a session to seek the input and ideas of their members for the future of all their programs and events.
Who else better than to advise them than the girls themselves!? 14 year-old Raine did an excellent job at facilitating the session, beginning with an all-out pink art attack to paint all the donated fins and boards pink, signalling equipment for the girls.
The Pink Nose Initiative aims to clearly define surfboards and equipment that belong to the women and girls and prevent the boys from using it. With support from the elder male surfers in the community, any boy or man who is seen to be riding equipment belonging to the girls will be told to return it so that the girls can continue to access surfing.
Female surfing in Vanuatu has come a long way in the past year and continues to grow, especially amongst younger girls who are extremely talented and agile in the waves. Thanks to Solwota Sista, they have the help they need to go far.
SOURCE: SUNSHINE SURF GIRLS