Stories from the Inside: How we got women onto municipal councils in Vanuatu and what happened next...

This research seminar presents an opportunity to hear from Dorosday Kenneth Dhressen, the Director of Women’s Affairs, how she has worked with the WISDM coalition and its TSM working group to introduce TSM for the municipal councils in Port Vila (2014 elections) and Luganville (2015 elections) with a particular focus on thinking and working politically in a dynamic context. Dr Tess Newton Cain will present an analysis of the experiences reported to the Pacific Leadership Program by the women councillors and show how this adds to what we already know as documented in the global and regional literature. The presentation will conclude with an update from Director Kenneth Dhressen on the most recent developments in Vanuatu, including a proposed constitutional amendment to allow for TSM at national government level.

Dorosday Kenneth Watson has a Master’s degree in Fisheries Science from the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom and held Government posts as the Director of the Department of Fisheries and then Director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for 17 years before becoming the Director of the Department of Women’s Affairs in 2009, a post she still holds today. Dorosday has been a principal advocate for the equal rights of girls and women in Vanuatu and was instrumental in the introduction of reserved seats for women in Municipal elections in 2013. In 2012 she was awarded the “Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite” by the French Government in recognition of her dedication to the strengthening of women’s rights and to reducing domestic violence against women, children and Persons with Disability.

Dr Tess Newton Cain is a ni-Vanuatu citizen and principal of TNC Pacific Consulting. She has lived and worked in the Pacific island region for almost 20 years, initially as a lecturer in Law at the University of the South Pacific and subsequently as a consultant and freelance analyst and researcher. She is a Visiting Fellow to the Development Policy Centre at ANU and an Adjunct Principal Research Fellow of the Cairns Institute, James Cook University. Tess is an acknowledged analyst of and commentator on politics, policy and development in Melanesia and elsewhere in the Pacific island region. The work that she is presenting here was undertaken in her capacity as Knowledge Dissemination Adviser to the Pacific Leadership Program.

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