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International Women’s Day

Posted in Alumni Profiles

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate diversity and inclusion, with this year’s theme being ‘Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress’. Derived from the United Nations 68th Commission on the Status of Women, the acknowledgment of this day is centred around ‘accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.

We speak with Australia Awards alumni Vasemaca Justine Pikioune, Errolyn Tungunaboe and Margret Joyce Kensen whom have all graduated with a Master qualification within their respective fields and are shining a light on the significant role women play in the strengthening of institutions and the continuing development of Vanuatu as a nation.

Justine graduated with a Master of Finance from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in 2020 and was appointed as the Finance Manager with Titan FX prior to her returning to Vanuatu from Australia due to her impressive credentials. It was Justine’s desire to work in senior-management that propelled her to complete a Master degree through the Australia Awards Scheme. Justine continues to forge forward with her successful career in leadership, having recently been accepted into the Women Leading and Influencing (WLI) Leadership Connect program for 2024. This program provides access to leadership learning and support whilst building connections between fellow Pacific Australia Awards scholars and alumni. Justine was also recently profiled in ‘Nation Builders: Celebrating Women in Private Sector’, a book that showcases the stories of 40 different women currently in Vanuatu’s Private Sector. This book was published by Balance of Power in partnership with the Department of Women’s Affairs, the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and Sista.

Justine explains ‘A valuable lesson from my professional journey, highlighted by a respected leader in the finance sector whom I admire, is the importance of taking ownership of our career development. To make this happen, we must recognize and confidently communicate our value and seek opportunities that align with our career goals, as no one else will pave the way to the positions we hope to achieve‘.

Errolyn is currently appointed as the Acting Medical Superintendent of Vila Central Hospital after having graduated with a Master of Medicine – Obstetrics & Gynaecology from Fiji School of Medicine in 2014. This is a role she has previously worked in prior to working overseas before returning to Vanuatu and moving back into this invaluable position that ensures the health of women remains a top priority. Errolyn believes it is imperative for women to take ownership of their lives and make choices that support their aspirations ‘live life to the full and don’t let others tell you what is expected of you, only you know what’s right for you‘ Errolyn explains.

Margret Joyce Kensen graduated with a Master of Law from The University of Melbourne in 2020 and is an Assistant Lecturer at USP’s Emalus campus, she is also responsible for coordinating the law courses offered there. Considered a national expert in E-commerce law, Margret co-authored the National E-Commerce Strategy & Roadmap for Vanuatu and was previously contracted under the Aid for Trade initiatives as a national consultant. Margret believes it is important for women to recognise their worth, as she explains ‘do not be discouraged in the face of fear and hardships, make a difference and challenge the status quo.

With such an impressive scope of laurels amongst these alumni it is clear that an investment in women accelerates the progress not just for the individual, but of institutions and more broadly speaking the development of an entire country.