Island Voices Podcast

Island Voices Episode 1
Island Voices Episode 2
Island Voices Episode 3

“It’s for building the Vanuatu that we want“  

New Podcast Explores Lives of Pioneering Women in Vanuatu

UN-OHRLLS has turned to audio to tell the stories of the lived experience of people living in small island developing States (SIDS) whose voices may otherwise go unheard.

The three-part series of Island Voices, recorded on the island nation of Vanuatu and released over the week leading into International Women’s Day 2021, delves into the challenges and aspirations of women pioneers fighting for gender equality across their society.

The stories are told by the protagonists themselves and are infused with sounds and music by local artists.

The first episode tells the story of how surfing unites a group of young women who are taking their long boards to the water, refusing to accept the idea that surfing is only for men.

Stephanie Mahuk, a lawyer and avid surfer recognizes the value of sports in elevating women across society. “If you get girls to participate in a sport that a majority of the time, in surfing, or in any other sport, is male dominated, that breaks the barriers for women’s rights and women’s recognition and setting up women to beat the expectation of men.” Vanuatu remains one of a handful of countries without any women in parliament. 

Episode 2 delves into the experience of two generations of women activists aiming to make history in Vanuatuan politics. Georgilla Worwor, a law student and community activist reflects on what drew her to politics, “My political ambition grew out of what I saw in my community. Every time I go back to the island there’s a lack of basic facilities and services. To get to hospital we would have to trek a long way, up a steep hill through an overgrown path. And I thought to myself what are we doing, what have we been doing?”  

Today, women are still in the minority across Vanuatu’s Police Department, but times are changing. When Sergeant Bianca Simeon joined the Vanuatu Police Maritime wing 11 years ago, she was their first woman recruit. Inspector Lili Joel is one of only two women superintendents, and Sera Bula Joseph is one of the rare women police engineers. In episode 3 of Island Voices, Sergeant Simeon and her colleagues describe the challenges they face, and the commitment needed to succeed in the Police Force.

Island Voices is hosted on the UN’s flagship podcast The Lid is On and is available across multiple platforms including Sound Cloud, Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

The podcast producer, mixer and sound engineer is Ginny Stein of Blue Sky Vision Vanuatu. The series’ executive producers at UN-OHRLLS are Damien Sass and Conor O’Loughlin.

The Island Voices podcast is part of UN-OHRLLS’ Island Voices campaign funded by the Government of the Netherlands.



Vanuatu and the UN

  • Vanuatu is a culturally and linguistically diverse nation of 83 volcanic and coral islands in the South Pacific, with one of the highest population growth rates in the region, and growing demand for public services. 
  • Vanuatu is considered the world’s most at-risk nation to natural hazards.
  • The country graduated out of the Least Developmed Countries (LDC) category on 4 December 2020, the sixth country to graduate since the UN General Assembly established the category of LDCs in 1971. 46 countries remain in the group.
  • Vanuatu has a mixed record on promoting gender equality.There are very low levels of women’s representation at all levels of government, with no women national Members of Parliament. Almost two thirds of women report experience of some form of gender-based violence.
  • The UN has been present in Vanuatu since 1984, with 18 agencies implementing programs. The United Nations Pacific Strategy supports governments and peoples in the Pacific, including Vanuatu, to advance a localised response to the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • For more about the United Nation's work in Vanuatu, visit: