Isabelle Tyuienon: the New Caledonian teacher who married tradition and modernity

For several decades now, 57-year-old former school teacher Isabelle Tyuienon has defended and promoted women’s rights in her native New Caledonia. Hailing from Canala commune in the Northern Province where she still resides, Isabelle has rallied women in her community to take on issues such as alcohol abuse and sexual violence.

Ms Tyuienon was instrumental in the creation of a women’s federation in her province in the early 90s, which has pushed for more women in positions of responsibility as well as the creation of a Ministry of Women’s Rights and a place for gender equality in government.

Isabelle has also played a crucial role in the preservation and promotion of traditional Kanak craft and culture as well as women’s economic empowerment. She helped create an association to promote Kanak craft in the early 90s and later introduced a project to plant pandanus in every household, weave mats in greater quantity and pass on this traditional skill to young girls.

In 2014, Isabelle became president of an association aimed at promoting women’s solidarity, protecting cultural know-how and creating social links. She is currently working on a pilot project for a women’s bank to support rural women in implementing group-based income-generating projects.

“To be a full-fledged woman is to be a woman capable of relying on her customs and beliefs while being open to the modern world as she builds a life and country of stability and peace” explains Isabelle Tyuienon, teacher and Women’s Rights Advocate from New Caledonia, to the SPC.


Photo credit:
(This portrait of Isabelle Tyuienon was first published by the Pacific Community for the 70 Inspiring Women campaign, it is reproduced here with their permission.)

The 70 Inspiring Pacific Women campaign has been produced by the Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with Australian Aid and Pacific Women. The campaign marks the 70th anniversary of SPC, and leads up to the 13th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and 6th Meeting of Ministers for Women in Suva (Fiji) from 2nd to 5th October 2017.