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FEATURE STORY March 5, 2019

IWD2019: Meet The Women Driving a More Equal Pacific


For International Women’s Day 2019, we are meeting the women driving change and increasing equality across the Pacific and Papua New Guinea. From international boxing stars and inspiring youth advocates to women mapping those in need in Port Moresby or heading new technology companies, we are hearing the motivations, hopes, and aspirations of the Pacific’s new leaders. Meet them here:


Myolynne Kim is a single mother, a PhD candidate and Pacific scholar who hails from Chuuk, in the Federated States of Micronesia and is working on history of Chuuk through women’s voices and stories. Meet Myolynne


Alicia Sahib is the Head of Support Services for the Bank of South Pacific (BSP), based in Port Moresby. Since 2014, Alicia has been the driving force behind a safe house that assists BSP female staff. She is now pursuing another passion project in her spare time; supporting the community of people living in drains in Port Moresby. Meet Alicia


Rosemary Tekoaua is the Chief of Laboratory Services in Kiribati, based in the capital, Tarawa. In her role, Rosemary looks after all three hospital labs across Kiribati, and oversees the work of nearly 30 technicians and medical scientists. Meet Rosemary



Debbie Kaore is a boxer from West New Britain and Kairuku in Papua New Guinea. She is working to create opportunities for women in sport, particularly rugby union and boxing. Meet Debbie.


Mariana Waqa is the founder of Vunilagi Book Club, a small non-profit organization set up on the outskirts of the Fijian capital, Suva, to encourage reading and literacy in some of Fiji’s most marginalized communities. Meet Mariana


Elizbaeth Kite is the President of Tonga Youth Leaders, a youth-led NGO based in the Tongan capital, Nuku’alofa, with the mission to inspire and empower young Tongans to a lifetime of service. In 2017, Elizabeth has named as a Queen’s Youth Leader, and she is also the Pacific Regional Representative for the Commonwealth Youth Council. Meet Elizabeth



Ruth Kissam is the Director of Operations at humanitarian NGO, PNG Tribal Foundation. Ruth gained national and international notoriety for her work to reduce sorcery related violence in the Highlands Region of Papua New Guinea. Meet Ruth


Crystal Kewe, from East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea is a 20-year old self-taught Software Engineer and Entrepreneur who is Chief Technical Officer of a software company she co-founded. Meet Crystal.


Eliorah Malifa is the Co-Director of the Pasifika Film Festival, which showcases the diverse work and talents of Pacific storytellers through filmmaking. In 2019, the festival expanded to the Northern Hemisphere for the first time – to Salt Lake City, Utah, in the United States. Meet Eliorah



Millicent Barty is the Chair of the Solomon Islands Young Entrepreneurs Council, as well as a Designer, and the manager of YHER Pacific, an initiative to tackle youth unemployment. Meet Millicent


Atenasi Ata is the CEO of Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Atenasi has worked with aid programs, UN agencies and government strengthening initiatives in Solomon Islands and Kiribati. Meet Atenasi.


Regina Lepping is a filmmaker, actor, activist and Youth Empowerment and Engagement Specialist. She is also the co-founder of the Say It Out Loud Film Festival in Solomon Islands. Meet Regina
Pyone Thet Thet Kyaw founded Virya Myanmar, an ethical clothing brand based in Yangon. After working as a garment worker and witnessing exploitation, she developed a passion for ethical fashion and advocacy in the industry. Meet Pyone.Jin Ling lost almost all of her eyesight as a university freshman. Along with several other women, she founded the Disability Affected Women Support Group (DAWS) to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities in China. Meet Jin.Jamela Alindogan is a war zone correspondent in the Philippines, the President of the Foreign Correspondents Association, and co-founder of Sinagtala, an NGO that aims to provide safe spaces for women and children in conflict zones. Meet Jamela.
Gabriela Soares is passionate about contributing to the development of Timor-Leste by working to bridge the divide between rural communities and the government. She is the founder and lead organizer for TEDx in Dili. Meet Gabi.Le Hoang Uyen Vy is General Partner of ESP Capital, an early stage venture fund with the mission to support tech startup companies in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. She hopes to help develop Vietnam's tech startup ecosystem. Meet Vy.Deborah Priya Henry co-founded the Fugee, a school catering to the large refugee children population in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Meet Deborah.
Zolzaya Batkhuyag is a lawyer and co-founder of the Women for Change (WFC) NGO. As a gender-justice activist, she leads advocacy projects to raise public awareness and build community efforts for justice in Mongolia. Meet Zolzaya.Mesty Ariotedjo is a pediatrician in training. To increase access to healthcare in Indonesia, she co-founded WeCare.id, a health crowdfunding platform that raises funds for patients in remote areas in need of medical services. Meet Mesty.Aliza's philosophy is sustainable change must happen through public participation. She founded
Socialgiver.com, an innovative online solution that helps consumers, businesses and social projects work together to create positive social impact. Meet Aliza.
Viengsam Indavong quit a lucrative career in finance to co-found the Lao Association for Austim and help parents like her with information and child care for kids with autism. Meet Viengsam.Regina Lepping is a filmmaker, actor, activist and Youth Empowerment and Engagement Specialist. She is also the co-founder of the Say It Out Loud Film Festival in Solomon Islands. Meet Regina.Alicia Sahib is Head of Support Services for the Bank of South Pacific (BSP), where she started a safe house for BSP female staff. She is also leading a project to support the community of people living in drains in Port Moresby. Meet Alicia.