South Epi receives first state Minister after 43 years


    “Empowerment of rural women and girls the priority as Justice Ministry launched community awareness program”

    The Ministry of Justice and Community Services (MJCS) has launched a community engagement program focused on empowering rural women and girls in South Epi. Led by the Honourable Minister of Justice and Community Services, John Amos Nalau, this initiative is historic as it marks the first time in 43 years of independence that a state Minister has visited the South Epi area.

    The MJCS delegation was warmly received by the local community engaged in community discussions and distributed legal awareness materials to residents over three days. A significant aspect of the program was the celebration of National Women’s Day 2024, centered on "Socio-Economic Empowerment of Rural Women & Girls."

    The initiative was initiated by local female leaders who sought to spread legal awareness regarding the socio-economic empowerment of women in their community. Over 30 women from 15 different villages in South Epi participated in a day of financial literacy training to better manage their homes. Hundreds of people from across Epi Island attended various events organized as part of the program.

    Minister John Amos Nalau emphasized the prevalence of domestic violence in many communities across Vanuatu in his official remarks, stating the government's commitment to combating all forms of gender-based and sexual violence. He urged community members to report cases of rape, sexual assault, or any form of violence to the police and justice services, highlighting the importance of collective action in addressing such issues.

    The program ran from 24-26 and aligns with the government's policy of "Bringing the Government Closer to the People," aiming to support women, children, and vulnerable groups. According to Minister Nalau, it also underscores the government's dedication to gender equality and ensuring that rural and remote communities have access to information about the law and state justice services, grounded in the realization of human rights for all in Vanuatu.

    Several MJCS agencies participated in the program, including the Department of Women’s Affairs, Department of Correctional Service, Vanuatu Law Reform Commission, Malvatumauri, Ombudsman, National Human Rights Unit, Child Desk, Disability Desk, Family Protection Unit/Vanuatu Police Force, Vanuatu Australian Policing and Justice Program, and the Cabinet of the Ministry of Justice. This multi-agency approach reflects the comprehensive effort to address issues of gender equality and justice in rural communities.

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