FEATURE STORY February 27, 2018

Inspiring women in the Pacific: Yolanda's story

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As part of our ongoing series, #PacificPossible, we are sharing insights from some of the region’s young and emerging leaders, for their take on what’s possible for the future of the Pacific Islands. For International Women’s Day 2018 – we are getting to know some of the young women leaders that are making an impact in the Pacific. Yolanda Joab-Mori works on climate change education issues for the International Organization for Migration in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).

What makes you get up in the morning? What are you working to achieve?

I love what I do and I look forward to going to work every day. It really doesn’t feel like work; it’s a privilege. I’ve been with this organization for six years, and have grown and learnt so much.

We began the CADRE Program (Climate Change Adaptation, Disaster Risk Reduction & Education) all those years ago, and it has since become a fully-fledged hallmark in the region. It’s still going strong today.

Through CADRE, we’ve been working hard to share the necessary education our schools and communities need to be aware and prepared for the reality of climate change. I want to see my people build on the resilience that’s already intrinsic to our culture, to take ownership of climate change in a way that will leave a legacy to our islands and children. We will not just survive and adapt to climate change and rising sea levels, but we’ll overcome it in a way that we can be proud of.   

 

What is your greatest personal OR professional achievement and why?

The greatest achievement in this life is being a mom. Professionally I’ve accomplished a lot in my twenties – which I’m proud of – but the underlying drive was magnified and intensified when my son was born.

Fighting for my islands has always been rooted in my heritage and in who I am, but when my son was born, the fight became about him and his future too. It was about knowing I did my part for him, ensuring he doesn’t bear the burden of climate change and inherit an uncertain future.

I want my son and his generation to look back at my generation now and know that we did everything we could to leave this earth better than we found it, or at the very least, a fair chance at picking up where we left off.

My advocacy work does require travel and takes me away from him more than I would like, but I hope one day he will know that it was always about something bigger, for something better, and always for him. I hope he will be proud of his mom, and draw courage and strength from my journey to inspire his own.

What is your favorite quote or saying?

Ngalis di tih karakar, which roughly translates from my mother tongue of Pohnpeian to English as: Bite down on hot bone.

It’s basically about persevering – no matter what – to never give up. It’s more of a feeling than a meaning, that can’t really be put into words, especially in English. But ask any Pohnpeian, and they’ll know exactly what it is.

What does the future look like for Micronesia? What’s possible?

Anything.

Because of everything we ‘lack’ and can use improvement on, it means there are many opportunities for great work, solutions, markets, jobs, curriculum to be created. I see more and more women taking on politics and leadership roles in the workforce, a more balanced distribution of resources and opportunities for our youth, and a revolutionizing and mainstreaming of the use of renewable energy; to have zero dependence on fossil fuels.

I have a lot of reason to hope, so I like to think all of this and far more is possible.

Where do you see the Pacific, as a region, in 25 years?

The Pacific has been on a roll; making me more and more proud of our islands and to be a part of this Pasifika family. I think the world is seeing that we are a force to be reckoned with, and that although we are comparatively small to other nations and global powerhouses, we are unstoppable when we unite.

I think that’s a unique strength of the Pacific region. We are many, many different countries, flags, cultures and languages, but we have a special ability to unite together in a way that brings positive change to everyone. We celebrate each other and look out for each other. I think this showed at COP21 in Paris. When Fiji won Gold at the Olympics, the whole ocean shook with pride; not just Fiji. It’s also seen in the way our climate change fight has been progressing, with each Pacific champion that stands up and speaks up.

In 25 years, the Pacific will be unstoppable.

 

If you could only be remembered for one thing what would it be?

My passion.

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*The World Bank has been supporting the Federated States of Micronesia to enhance electricity supply, increase the use of renewable energy, enhance telecommunications, increase fisheries revenue while managing them more sustainably, strengthening climate investment and improving the ability to respond to natural disasters and the impacts of climate change.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of the World Bank Group and its employees.



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