Esitele Fuluhea Lakalaka knows firsthand the struggles of women in her native Wallis and Futuna. She began her career at a young age in the late 60s in the French territory’s health sector, firstly as a secretary and interpreter, then as a midwife delivering births at Sia Hospital, then finally as an management executive at the hospital.
Ms Lakalaka then became interested in public affairs and was the first woman in Wallis and Futuna to be registered on an electoral list in 1977 and also became the first woman on the Government Council in 1982, where she stayed for a decade.
She later worked in the voluntary sector. She was President of the Territorial Council of Women from 1996 to 2001, then held the position of Delegate of Women’s Rights for the Territory from 2005 to 2010. It was on her initiative that the Commission on the Status of Women was set up in the Territorial Assembly in 2007.
“Courage and a willingness to dare to act are, in my opinion, the triggers for the emancipation of women in Wallis and Futuna,” she says.
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.