A total of 36 women fieldworkers have been participating in Traditional Leadership Roles workshops at the Vanuatu Kaljoral Senta (VKS) in Port Vila.

The Ministry of Justice and Community Services (MoJCS) revealed in a statement that these two-week workshops, which were an annual affair discontinued in 2016 due to financial constraints, have resumed this year thanks to the New Zealand Government’s financial commitment. This ensures that the network can continue its invaluable work.

“This year’s theme, ‘Traditional Leadership Role,’ reflects the forward-looking nature of the network,” the MoJCS stated.

The Coordinator of the Women’s Culture and Fieldworkers Program, Evelyn Bulegih, has explained the importance of establishing a Women’s Fieldworkers network in Vanuatu.

“It is necessary to address certain customs and cultures in Vanuatu that only women are allowed to discuss and perform,” she stated.

“This network is a key step towards preserving Vanuatu’s unique culture, and it is good to see that both women and men are invited each year to present their research on a particular topic.

“The workshops aim to preserve Vanuatu’s custom stories, songs, and custom plays, which are in danger of being lost as life changes rapidly.”

Ms Bulegih mentioned that every workshop is recorded and put in the archives, which is an excellent initiative to ensure that this knowledge is passed down to future generations.

Dr Nissan Bolton, the facilitator of the two workshops, spent many years in Vanuatu to complete her PhD studies. The Ministry said it is inspiring to see her happy to be back in Vanuatu to revive the network and work closely with the field workers.

The Women’s workshop began last week and ended yesterday (Friday), while the Men’s Fieldworkers’ workshop started on Monday this week.

The participants will choose a topic at the end of the workshop to research in their communities, and when they return next year, they will present their findings and share their experiences with the rest of the network.

“Overall, it is wonderful to see the commitment and dedication of these fieldworkers. We hope that more funding can be secured in the future to continue this invaluable work,” the MoJCS concluded.

This year marks the 20th edition of the VKS Women Fieldworkers, and it is excellent to see that this network is evolving with time.

The Women’s and Men’s Fieldworkers network in Vanuatu has been in operation since its establishment in 1994 and ever since it has been funded by the Australian Government.