GETTING more women into sports is everyone’s business, says Evelyne Toa, President of the Media Association of Vanuatu.
This week female journalists in Vanuatu, including communications officers for various sports, are attending a one-week workshop with Women in News Sports (WINS) at VASANOC house, funded by the Australian Government.
Speaking during the panel discussions on women in sport and sports journalism in the Vanuatu context this afternoon, Evelyne Toa said this is the main issue that Vanuatu is lacking.
“We need more input from the national government and we hope Van2017 brings some changes,” she said.
The panel discussion was hosted by Kizzy Kalsakau from 96 Buzz FM.
One of the panellists, Anolyn Lulu from the Vanuatu Table Tennis Federation, said women’s involvement in sports has grown significantly in recent times.
“After Independence, females are involved more,” she said.
“It’s quite a challenging at times when going overseas to play and the accompanying team with you are all males, like the media, doctors, but now there is a big progress in that.
“Females are part of the team.”
Melissa Fare, Media and Communications Officer for the Vanuatu Cricket Association, and also one of the panellists, said cricket involving women has grown a lot.
“Cricket is not a man’s game only,” she said.
“Many times men look down on women that they are only responsible for the household jobs and if the women came and do training they sent them back home.
“It’s sad because some people are still holding on to those cultural values, but I want to be a role model for the young girls and also other women.”
Ms Fare said she wants to let women know that participating in sports can lead to a lot of opportunities.
“Sport is not just for fun but it keeps you busy,” she said.
“We all have rights to exercise and we have to strengthen it.”
Ms Lulu said many times women are not comfortable, especially in games like netball where women usually wear short skirts or, in the case of beach volleyball, where they have to wear bikinis in public.
“Women must come out of these ways and start thinking differently,” she said.
“We know our culture is against that, but our nation needs to accept that the world is changing.
“More awareness is needed in this and we know in many of the games the dressing is very important; you can’t wear a long skirt playing volleyball.”
The panellists said the media has played a very important role in reporting sports.
“We encourage all women to take part in sports,” they said.
Ms Lulu said para sports is now growing in Vanuatu.
“It’s good because it gives opportunities to the people with disabilities,” she said.
Meanwhile Jenny Da Rin, the Australian High Commissioner, said it was a privilege to be there hearing all this discussion.
“We are trying to promote women but there are many challenges as well,” she said.
“Australia is only a donor partner and we are trying our very best to make teams in Australia work together with the Vanuatu teams to develop sports, as we are supporting sports in Vanuatu.”
During the training Monday, the participants got to know each other and did a small group activity where they shared ideas about the landscape in Vanuatu – the cultural, journalism, gender and sports situations.
The workshop was coordinated by Joanna Lester, sports reporter from the ABC International Development.