March 25, 2013

By Marstella Jack
The Kaselehlie Press

Kolonia, Pohnpei - The annual celebrations of International Women's Day this year was again organized by the Pohnpei Women Council and was kicked off with the first ever Urohs en Pohnpei (Pohnpeian skirt) competition.

Past annual celebrations have involved fun competitions amongst the 27 women groups that make up the Pohnpei Women Council. Up to 2012, the competitions centered on cleaning and beautification of the different communities' home villages. This year the Council decided to showcase the display of "mengin pehn lih en Pohnpei" (indigenous talents of Pohnpeian women). In addition to the Urohs en Pohnpei, the competitions included sale exhibits of local food crops, handicrafts, potted plants, fish, rare fruits including herbal plants and other items such as flower decorations made of pandanus leaves and wine cups made of coconut shells. All locally manufactured by the women's groups themselves. One group displayed for sale the fruit "Durion" which is very expensive in Japan and more of which we hope to see become available in the market stands in town.

The intent of the competition was to encourage Pohnpeian women to start thinking about how they can make a livelihood from selling their products as well as to provide a central market venue. The venue enabled the women to sell their products that they normally would not have been able to sell because of the distance of their homes and gardens from the markets in town.

The program started 2 hours later than planned so some have commented that perhaps the next competitions should also include a component on "punctuality"! This year's celebration was adorned by the most vibrant dances yet and was graced with a massive public attendance, including dignitaries, families and yes, a number of men counterparts.

International Women's Day celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women. Every year on 8 March, events ranging from political rallies, business conferences and local women's craft markets are held throughout the world to inspire women and recognize their achievements. International Women's Day importantly honors the work of the 'Suffrogates' back in the early 1900s which composed mainly of women who sacrificed much to win women's right to vote.

This year's international theme, "The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum", was very timely for Pohnpeian women. The Pohnpei Women Council has seen much progress in recent years on its efforts to bring the Gender agenda to the forefront of policy formulation. Governor Ehsa has approved use of a government building to house the Council headquarters so that "real" progress on the ground can begin in terms of providing the much needed support services to survivors of family violence. AusAID is providing funding support to renovate the building. However, the theme itself should also serve as a reminder that although the gender agenda is indeed gaining momentum in Pohnpei, there remains great gender inequality for women in Pohnpei, one which we must all strive to correct. Specific mention was made during this year's celebrations that underscored the pending bill in Pohnpei Legislature against Family Violence (L.B. 22-12) and urged its passage in the next session in May 2013. The Pohnpei Women Council wishes to take this opportunity to thank the judges. Kalahngan muledek to Mrs. Chongkoz Quinn, Mrs. Wanpen Ordonez and Ms. Emi Chutaro. Appreciation also goes to all the sponsors for their kind and generous donation. Special recognition goes to Senator David Panuelo for his generous and continuous support to the annual celebrations.

List of Winners:

The winners in Urohs competition go to Mand Women in Action-1st place $500;
Lien Madolenihmw-2nd $200;
and LienDolonier-3rd $100,
and the Tent display prizes go to EMPWA-1st $200;
Lien Education-2nd $150;
Lien Kolonia Town-3rd $100.

Special recognition goes to the Lihn Mwoakilloa group for their extra effort in punctuality, solidarity and pride in their continuous showcase of locally manufactured jewelry!!