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Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP)

Women leaders prepare for and respond to emergencies in Vanuatu

ActionAid Australia supports Ni-Vanuatu women’s leadership through the Women I Tok Tok Tugeta (Women talk together) network. In this network the women learn about preparing for, and responding to, crises, disasters and climate change.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, these women are using the network and their skills to deliver vital health information to remote communities across Vanuatu.

Working with the Ministry of Health to deliver training has ensured women are seen as credible and knowledgeable as they lead efforts to prevent the spread of misinformation about COVID-19. Women are rolling-out training in community meetings to explain COVID19 and demonstrate physical distancing and handwashing practice.

Anne Pakoa, who leads Vanuatu Young Women for Change, ActionAid Australia’s in-country partner, says that giving the responsibility of health messaging to women leaders is innovative and makes sense.

“I met these women leaders two years ago and I saw the same women the other day and they’ve come up a long way. They stood up, aired their issues and spoke confidently about the actions that they are taking at the local level to ensure their communities are safe and their ways of influencing their chiefs, their husbands and the male cohort in their communities to combat COVID-19. It’s amazing. If we continue to embed this training and ensure that we have these powerful networks of women in all six provinces of Vanuatu, I think we are going to take this country very far economically and socially as well.”

ActionAid also has a focus on inclusion of a diverse group of women through Women I Tok Tok Tugeta Sunshine.

Hellen Tamata, a Women I Tok Tok Tugeta Sunshine member who uses a wheelchair says: “Women with disabilities know what they want. People without disabilities will not understand our challenges so when we are trained, we will have a voice and we will speak up for ourselves in whatever situation we face and during a disaster we will be prepared.”

This work is supported through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

Group of people with their fists raised.
Attendees at a training session. Credit: ActionAid Australia.
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