From high school teacher to political activist to sustainable development

Suliana Siwatibau, 77, has made immense contributions to the Pacific region over many decades, working across multiple fields including science, environment, leadership and activism for peace, democracy and human rights. A botanist by training, Mrs Siwatibau started out teaching science at secondary school level in Fiji, then later biology at the University of the South Pacific before switching to agricultural research. She was also a … Continue reading From high school teacher to political activist to sustainable development

A businesswoman in Vanuatu

Ni-Vanuatu businesswoman Rosemary Leona is living proof that Pacific women can stake a claim in the region’s male-dominated business scene. The fifty-four-year-old native of Pentecost Island has made a name for herself in two of Vanuatu’s key industries: tourism and kava. She is the proud owner of the recently launched Vila Rose Hotel in the heart of Port Vila. Rosemary has also run a successful … Continue reading A businesswoman in Vanuatu

She introduced a “no discrimination” clause in the Fijian Constitution

Seventy-three-year-old retired politician Adi Finau Tabakaucoro has spent a lifetime advocating for the interests of indigenous Fijian women and girls. She is the current President of the largest women’s civil society organisation in Fiji; Soqosoqo Vakamarama i Viti, which works in the country’s 14 provinces on village, district and provincial matters as well as national development policies, programming, laws, regulations and services. A wide range of … Continue reading She introduced a “no discrimination” clause in the Fijian Constitution

Empowering adolescent girls in Tonga

Thirty-nine-year-old Vanessa Heleta has been a women’s rights activist in Tonga for more than a decade. As a young woman herself, she has made it her mission to empower adolescent girls through learning and awareness raising. Vanessa is the founder and Director of the Talitha Project, which runs a ‘drop-in centre’ for young women and girls in Tonga, providing security, counselling, training, income generation skills … Continue reading Empowering adolescent girls in Tonga

She fights for the LGBT community in the Pacific

As a transgender woman herself, Joey Joleen Mataele knows firsthand the struggles that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) communities face in her native Tonga and the greater Pacific region. As a singer and entertainer, she also understands the importance of oral culture and the role of song, humour and dance in Pacific cultures, which she has been using to elicit support … Continue reading She fights for the LGBT community in the Pacific

This ecological economist helped save the mangroves of Fiji

Dr Padma Narsey Lal is a Fijian ecological economist known for her pioneering work in interdisciplinary research in the Pacific, integrating ecology and environmental economics, helping Pacific Island nations with the challenges of sustainable development and environment management for over 40 years. Her ground breaking work in the Pacific has covered a wide range of sectors and thematic areas including cost-benefit analysis, market and non-market … Continue reading This ecological economist helped save the mangroves of Fiji

She promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights in Kiribati

Norma Yeeting is a sexual and reproductive health and rights champion in Kiribati, whose work has resulted in improvements in the lives of many I-Kiribati men and women. Norma is the executive director of Kiribati Family Health Association (KFHA), the leading sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) NGO in Kiribati, where she heads up a team of 15, including clinical and professional staff. Under … Continue reading She promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights in Kiribati

A Chinese boat arrested with illegal cargo of 6600 sharks

Two weeks ago, a Chinese ship named « Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 » was arrested transporting more than 6600 sharks, some of endangered and even near-extinct species, in the Galapagos Islands. The authorities seized the illegal cargo and arrested the 20 Chinese sailors on board. They risk a 3 years jail sentence for offense against flora and fauna. The ship was caught near the island of … Continue reading A Chinese boat arrested with illegal cargo of 6600 sharks

‘Utoikamanu is the highest ranking Pacific Island person at the UN

In April, Tonga’s Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu was appointed the United Nations’ High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States and Under Secretary General, making her the highest ranking Pacific Island person at the UN. Ms. ‘Utoikamanu has a wealth of national, regional and international experience in various senior leadership positions. Prior to her latest appointment, she was Chief … Continue reading ‘Utoikamanu is the highest ranking Pacific Island person at the UN

Meet Andra Samoa, environmentalist from American Samoa

American Samoan environmentalist Andra Samoa walks the talk. “You will always find her cleaning the wetlands or picking up trash along the road and beaches in Leone,” says her friend and colleague Ginger Porter of the Pacific International Training Desk in Hawaii. “Andra is foremost a community organiser, educator and volunteer in her village of Leone on Tutuila, the main island in American Samoa,” says … Continue reading Meet Andra Samoa, environmentalist from American Samoa