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FEATURE STORY March 5, 2018

Inspiring women in the Pacific: Resmah's story


The World Bank

March 8 marks International Women’s Day. To mark the day this year the World Bank is sharing stories from inspiring young women they met from across the Pacific Islands, including Vanuatu - highlighting that one of the region’s best resources is its people and talented young women. This is a part of the ongoing series Pacific Possible, in which the World Bank spoke with young and emerging leaders from the region for their take on what’s possible for the future of their countries and the major challenges ahead. Resmah Kalotiti is the first female surfboard shaper in the Pacific, and she provides surfing lessons to children in her village.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Resmah Kalotiti, I am 21 years old and I live in Pango Village, in the south-east of Efate, in Vanuatu.

I am currently working as a trainer, providing surf lessons to kids both boys and girls in my village. I am a member of the Vanuatu Surfing Association and I participate in their activities. My career has been in surfing and I also modelled between 2016 to mid-2017.

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

The wave is my alarm in the morning. Each morning I wake up, I check the waves to see if it’s good to surf. This daily experience helps me to work hard to achieve my ambition to set up a successful surfboard manufacturing business.

What is your greatest personal or professional achievement?

My greatest professional achievement was when I had the opportunity to spend a month in Australia learning how to shape surfboards. It’s seen me become the first female board shaper in the Pacific Islands.

The main reason why this was so important to me is because I see many tourists travel to Vanuatu with surf boards - yet that can be inconvenient, especially in terms of freight costs - hence this is a way to sell them something homegrown in Vanuatu. It will also help create new manufacturing job opportunities for us ni-Vans.

What is your favorite quote or saying?

My favorite quote is simply ‘practice makes perfect’. All the mistakes I’ve made in shaping surfboards are motivated by continually improving.

What are the biggest issues in Vanuatu right now? How can we fix them?

The set of issues occurring in my country include; domestic violence, crime, (including accidents linked to alcohol consumption), and unemployment, particularly amongst young people.

To fix these issues, we should have more awareness programs [that ] help people understand why they should not drink and drive. We should create venues where youths can come together and share their views and their challenges, and also ideas on how to resolve them.

We should help existing programs and organizsations, such as the youth challenge, the Chamber of Commerce and Australia-Pacific Technical College, to advocate for more opportunities for unemployed young people. I also see my example in the board shaper initiative as a way of supporting this too.

What does the future looks like for Vanuatu? What’s possible?   

The future for Vanuatu is promoting the spirit of working together. I would like to see more people in unity; working together in all works of life - across government, youths and in the community.

I want to see a future for Vanuatu where family groups are working together for a more harmonious community.

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

I want to see the Pacific island Island countries unite in 25 years’ time. I want to see the pacific island countries share resources, for example, some countries have more resources, (like Samoa) , than other countries (, like the atoll islands) , in terms of development.

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

Vanuatu’s first female surfing champion with a smile.



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

The World Bank has been supporting the government of Vanuatu in reconstruction efforts following 2015’s Cyclone Pam and is investing in Vanuatu’s aviation infrastructure.