A panel session facilitated by Jennifer Kausei (alumni committee member) with MP Johnny Koanapo (current Parliament Secretary responsible for International Development Cooperation) and Ms. Hilda Lini (former member of parliament, 1987 to 1998) as guest speakers at this event.
Over 20 alumni members attended an intimate discussion and sharing aimed to encourage budding alumni members interested in becoming politicians or just interested to hear of experiences of being a politician in Vanuatu.
Alumni members were given first-hand information on background and life experiences in being in politics with many questions. Both speakers provided rich stories and perspectives from their upbringing, influence of early church and traditional values and norms, perspective on gender equality, challenges, motivation and drive in becoming a leader of a nation. This was a great opportunity for alumni members to converse with the two speakers, who are both very busy individuals but took their time to share with members.
MP Johnny Koanapo emphasised education as an important vehicle to driving a developing nation like Vanuatu, and importance of women’s voice in politics. His religious background is a fundamental drive for his success. Stories of challenges and success as a woman in politics in the 70s and 80s was a lively story told by Ms. Hilda, especially for those not familiar of the history of Vanuatu’s independence. Ms. Lini continues to be a strong advocate for women’s rights and the rights of indigenous people and ethnic groups. MP Johnny continues to influence policy making vested by the Vanuatu Government. A shared view of an economically sustainable Vanuatu was both speakers of Vanuatu’s future. Their contrasting backgrounds but motivating encouragements gave alumni different views and perspectives to what life should and could be like to become a politician.