Peace and Politics

Anne Pakoa
Posted September 29, 2018 from Vanuatu

Vanuatu, for the last 10 years has not had any women in its national parliament. Voters are not voting for women! This is a conflict, it's a violation of peace towards Vanuatu women! I believe that we have exhausted all democratic mechanisms to put women into parliament and it is a big shame! While CEDAW and SDG 16 are providing mandatory conventions for Vanuatu to commit, I find that specific articles on these 2 conventions are NOT being respected by our national and local leaders and Institutions who create and enforce laws to enhance gender equality and equity,  I also write to share my experience as Vanuatu's first Presidency Candidate in 2004 which was a huge step for me as a 35-year-old woman who was  about to be given a divorce by my ex-husband from a marriage which was very much controlled by the church we both belong to that time. I felt broken and alone and I felt that time, as a young woman with 2 children to look after that I was amongst many other young women and girls who were stuck in a circle of abuse. For me, I felt that I needed to get up, shake the dust off myself, pick up the broken pieces and show the world that I was not a loser and therefore will not be caged in that circle of ' losers! I pulled myself together through 2 things; 1. I forgave my husband that time and those who hurt me and told myself, I would no longer hold any grudges and no more 'self -pity' as it stole peace from within me. That worked! 

2. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a wrecked poor girl, single mother staring back at me. I started off by smiling at her, the smile stayed longer until I started telling the girl I saw in the mirror that she was beautiful and strong and that she could do it! Saying that I felt a good energy swept within me and a good feeling of hope and some peace within me. From that moment on, I told myself that life was going to be different for me, a different better, full of peace, love and good energy. 

I coped with my divorce peacefully and look at life from a different angle. Those early days, when despair was going to overtake me, I would look at myself in the mirror and tell myself, that the sun would shine the next day and it always did! Even though I did not make it to become Vanuatu's First President, I was at peace with it all. To me, I felt not as a looser but that I had been very courageous to step into politics by starting from the highest position in the country! I am not ashamed for taking that step but more rather proud of myself, that 35-year-old broken single Mother who pulled herself up from her lowest to compete with strong and famous politicians. 

Today, I am a strong activist in equal political participation for women, using the UNSCR 1325 on Women Peace and Security as the benchmark for my advocacy in partnership with Vanuatu Young Women For Change ( a girls- led ) NGO I founded in 2013) and the Vanuatu Human Rights Coalition, another NGO I started in 2013 also.  The Vanuatu Young Women For Change has created a space in partnership with the Vanuatu Civil Society Association of Chiefs to established a project called ' Storian Insaed Long Nakamal" ) to specifically address the issue of lack of women representation in parliament. With the financial assistance they currently have from the Canadian Fund For Local Initiatives, they are working hard to put at least 5 women in Vanuatu's National Parliament in 2020 and more towards the 2030 period. In Vanuatu's context, the local chiefs are directors of the villages and they have a lot of respect from their people, therefore, we believe that this collaboration with the chiefs can help with positive responses from voters. Ensuring good civic education and learning from voters and political parties is crucial and I believe that at this point in time, this is our violations of peace as Vanuatu women, not having any participation in our national parliament for the last 10 years. I believe that our peace will be completed when we finally have our national parliamentary 53 seats shared by Vanuatu women! 

This post was submitted in response to The Future of Security Is Women .

Comments 9

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jlanghus
Sep 29
Sep 29

Hi Anne,

Welcome to World Pulse:-) It's great to have you here! And, thanks for sharing some of your story, mission and work. I love how you single-handedly were able to clear a lot of negative patterns and beliefs that were plaguing you. That takes a lot of intention and discipline to do this. I do hope that more Vanuatu women will be represented in your parliament soon! Please keep us posted on that.

I am also looking forward to hearing more from you and about your two organizations. Do you have websites and/or social media links for them, so that we can follow/like them?

Hope you're having a great day!

Anne Pakoa
Oct 01
Oct 01

Hi Jlanghus,
Thank you for the warm welcome! I am glad you like my personal political life story. I will keep you posted on how we go about enabling mechanisms for Vanuatu Women to get into our national parliament in 2020 and beyond. You can find Vanuatu Young Women For Change Facebook page on: vanuatuywc vywc or follow me on my human rights work on my face book page on: Anne Pakoa. Thank you and hope you are having a great day too! Cheers! Anne

jlanghus
Oct 01
Oct 01

You're welcome:-)

Great. I've sent you a request on FB to follow your work.

Yes, thank you!

Anne Pakoa
Oct 01
Oct 01

Thank you! Will check it out now

Have a great day!

Cheers

Anne

jlanghus
Oct 02
Oct 02

You're welcome:) You, too!!!

emma matondang
Oct 03
Oct 03

Hi Anne,
It's great to read your story, Thank you. I feel not alone then. I did what you did too , to forgive myself first and my husband for all the bad deeds and for he left me with our two daughters then ready to move on and I even able to thank him for leting me alone with my girls without any support. Yes it worked very well. With my experiences in International schools, now I am a leader of a local school special for poor people that my father builded long time ago. Keep on trying hard to find some helps to improve the old building and all my narrow minded and old phasion way of teachers to teach where they believed they have to talk rude and beating the students. Now it's running quite well. I look forward to follow your next actions for my inspiration to build up better women condition that I strongly believe it comes from the bravery of woman to stand up, to be confident, independent to move on and not to be afraid and not to lean on this creature called man.
Good on you.
Have great days.

erin_3
Oct 04
Oct 04

Dear Anne:
Your story is powerful. Thank you so much for sharing it. Do you have any international NGOs working with Vanuatu yet - on strategies, etc? UN Women seems to be the world leader on these conversations: http://www.unwomen.org/en. This one may also be of help, though not focused on women in politics: https://www.ndi.org/.

As a Women Thrive Alliance leader we are so happy you have joined us here at World Pulse. I hope many more of your sisters can join and connect here as well.

Have a great day Anne.

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 12
Oct 12

Hi Anne,

I was so moved to follow your story about deciding to take the positive road and smile at yourself in the mirror. What strength you have, to have run for President in the midst of such a big life change. And then the gigantic steps as you dove even deeper into your activism, activism with so many branches fed by deep wisdom. I have learned a lot abut your country here, and also about planning carefully to create real change nationally.
A big welcome to WorldPulse!

In sisterhood,
Tam

BRAVA YOU! I went through a divorce and applied a love-based approach (love based strategy really). It made all the difference. I so admire your courage and determination in the face of terrible odds and cultural barriers. You are a beacon for so many who also need to dust themselves off and pick up the broken pieces, including me. Thank you for sharing your story. Natalie