© 2009 VANWODS Microfinance


This was pretty awesome. On May 15, which is National Women’s Day in Vanuatu, VANWODS launched a new office in Malekula. It was an important step in the expansion plan for VANWODS, Malekula is our first office in an outer island, outside of the urban centres in Port Vila and Luganville. A lot of politicians also turned up for the launch as it fits into one of their priority areas for the Millenium Development Goals, to encourage economic growth and income-generating activities in the rural areas of Vanuatu.

But VANWODS pretty much got swept away by the momentum. The mamas all organised themselves into centres and demanded that VANWODS offer our services in Malekula. Over 1000 women gathered at the day of the launch (and I have a friend who’s volunteering in the Maskelyne Islands who said that she helped women fundraise to get to launch site, as they would have to pay for boat trips and truck rides, as well as having to travel for hours to get to the launch site.) They made matching island dresses and giant banners and marched for two kilometres – apparently, it was the first ever parade held on Malekula.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go to the launch, but I’ve seen the DVD (will post a clip next) – it was cool to see the women dancing in the streets and finally getting some time that they could spend on themselves. Vanuatu is such a male-dominated country that it’s clear women see VANWODS as an organization which finally gives them access to opportunities.

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