Promoting increased women’s representation in government

  • Amount funded: £200,000
  • Year: 2019
  • Duration: 48 months
  • Locations: Vanuatu
  • Grant stream: Annual Grants Call

Women remain underrepresented at all levels of leadership and decision making in Vanuatu; during the 2019 elections, only 3.8 percent of candidates were female.

Project partners
Further Arts
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How we are helping

Supporting our partners to raise public awareness of the issue through creative media campaigns, and train 1440 rural women in electoral processes and leadership.

About the project

The Government of Vanuatu recognises that gender equality is ‘part of the fundamental right and duty enshrined in the National Constitution’ and that gender equality and women’s empowerment are critical to the achievement of its national development vision. Improving women’s political participation is of critical importance for gender equality and more inclusive, peaceful, and effective societies. The Government of Vanuatu acknowledges that ‘more often than not, women are excluded from decision making and are absent from leadership positions’.

Indeed, there are currently no women in the 52 seats of the national parliament, and women remain under-represented at all levels of leadership and decision making. Since independence in 1980, Vanuatu has had only five female members of parliament. In the elections of 2016 (the country’s most recent), just 3.8% of candidates were women.

This project will seek to increase the number of women represented in Vanuatu’s parliament—in particular the number of women running in the 2024 elections—through two main areas of work: an awareness-raising and advocacy media campaign which aims to challenge prevailing cultural norms, highlight women’s contribution to development, and demonstrate their leadership ability; and by building the capacity and confidence of women through leadership training and mentoring that honours local ways of thinking, practices, and experiences. This will be achieved by:

  • producing a radio soap opera in Bislama (the lingua franca of Vanuatu) that will seek to normalise and mainstream women in leadership roles and illustrate the type of supportive systems that are needed for women to succeed in decision making roles, including support from both men and women;
  • producing and disseminate mini digital stories on current women leaders to showcase their leadership strategies;
  • developing a media campaign that will promote and raise awareness of project activities to communities, local and provincial councils, traditional leaders, and other stakeholders; and
  • conducting training in voter education, electoral processes, leadership and development for 1,440 rural women.

As a result of the project, 1,440 rural women, with ambitions to join National Parliament and Provincial and Municipal councils, will be trained throughout Vanuatu’s six provinces. The women will be better prepared and equipped with relevant skills to stand for elections, and will have improved understanding of implementing campaigns and election processes. The project will also help contribute to increasing women’s and men’s support for, and enabling of, women in leadership roles; and it will also aim to increase social awareness of women’s capabilities in high-level decision making. The project’s different initiatives will help contribute to a more conducive environment for women’s participation and representation in politics.

The project is aligned with the Vanuatu Government’s National Sustainable Development Plan, and its National Policy on Gender Equality. The project’s design has been guided by the National Outcome Statement on Women’s Political Participation in Parliament in 2018. It will build on and complement increased activities of women’s civic leadership groupings including the Vanuatu National Council of Women, Advocates for Women in Parliament, the Women in Parliament Network, and the Gender Equity in Parliament group.

Project Partners
Further Arts

Further Arts (FA) is a civil society organisation based in Port Vila, Vanuatu. FA was founded in 2000 in order to help empower ni-Vanuatu to develop long-term social and commercial enterprises in the industries of creative arts, agriculture and communications that are culturally, socially, environmentally and financially sustainable. It uses arts and culture as a vehicle for social transformation and popular education, action research, media and community organising methods to strengthen the capacity of community members and community-based organisations at the local and village level and to build solidarity across Melanesia.

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