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FEATURE STORY March 5, 2020

IWD2020: Meet The Women Who Are Breaking Barriers Across the Pacific

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For International Women’s Day 2020, we’re getting to know the pioneering women across the Pacific and Papua New Guinea who are breaking barriers and creating change for the decade ahead. From international sailors and inspiring poets, to diplomats and CEOs fighting for a more equal world, we are sharing the motivations, aspirations and experiences that shaped these women into tomorrow's Pacific leaders. Meet them here:


 
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Dr Oripa Waqa calls oral surgery the “adrenalin rush specialty”, and as the first female oral surgeon in the Pacific, she plans to use her skills to help people living in remote areas of Fiji. Meet Oripa

 

Laavaneta Juliano was the first female structural engineer in Kiribati in 2017. She is now an officer at the Quality Control and Inspection Unit in the Ministry of Infrastructure & Sustainable Energy. As her country tackles the impacts of climate change, Laavaneta hopes to inspire more i-Kiribati women to become engineers. Meet Laavaneta

 

Constable Lavinia Mahit is the first Ni-Vanuatu woman to join the New Zealand Police Force. While she faces the ‘dark side’ of law enforcement every day, Lavinia is passionate about reframing the role of what Pacific women can do in both New Zealand and Vanuatu. Meet Lavinia

 

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Iva Nancy Vunikura represented Fiji as a national rugby player before joining the Okeanos Foundation for the Sea as a vaka (traditional canoe) voyager. She has sailed more than 70,000 nautical miles to spread the word about using traditional Pacific knowledge to create a sustainable future. Meet Iva
 

Caroline Evari began writing at the age of six. She is now the author of 28 children’s books and has published her own book of poems, Nanu Sina: My Words, all while supporting the World Bank and it’s nine projects in Papua New Guinea and raising two sons. Meet Caroline

 

Rosamond Carter Bing wasn’t sure where her career in law would take her, but as CEO of Tonga’s Ministry of Land and Natural Resources, her keen negotiation skills are being put to good use to protect the planet’s oceans for future generations. Meet Rosamond
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Kathryn Relang is the former Executive Director of Women United Together Marshall Islands, & today, working for the Pacific Community Regional Rights Resource Team, she continues to fight for human rights at home & across the region. Meet KathrynAs Editor of the only Tok Pisin newspaper in Papua New Guinea, Wantok Niuspepa, Rosa Koain often feels inspired by the world’s great poets and songwriters when she dreams about the future of Pacific women. Meet RosaAlmah Kuambu is a Technical Advisor with the National Orthotic and Prosthetic Service, where she works to help others with mobility disabilities all across PNG. Meet Almah
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Jennifer Kalpokas Doan doesn’t identify as a feminist, but someone who believes in good & strong governance. As Deputy Leader for Vanuatu's Balance of Power program, she is determined to see more women in Parliament. Meet JenniferJanice Mose Kemakeza comes from a family of diplomats, but as the Solomon Islands Deputy Representative to the United Nations, she is forging her own path and fighting for the issues that matter most to her country at the global level. Meet JaniceLesilei Katokakala Lutua is the Chief Air Traffic Controller in Tonga. The country recently celebrated the opening of its new Air Traffic Control Tower that was funded by the World Bank. Meet Lesilei
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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