Sista is a feminist organisation dedicated to using arts, media and communications to empower women and girls, raise awareness of the issues that affect them and advocate for change in Vanuatu.
Driven by strong feminist values, Sista was established in 2016 as an online magazine designed to create a space where women in Vanuatu could safely connect, uplift and amplify each other’s struggles, successes and experiences. Since then, their work has expanded beyond information sharing to include advocacy and change-making, fighting for a more gender balanced society by promoting gender justice and women’s representation in Vanuatu.
Their vision is simple – to create a world where women and girls are able to enjoy their rights and fully participate in the decisions that affect their life.
Through the mediums of art, media and communications, Sista has been able to foster conversations around otherwise taboo topics and break barriers in Vanuatu society through creative and innovative approaches that skillfully balance progress and tradition as a way of creating change.
Sista and IWDA
IWDA’s partnership with Sista started in 2021 when Sista joined the We Rise Coalition. Comprised of seven partner organisations, the Coalition seeks to join the strengths, resources and networks of each partner in advancing women’s rights and creating a political force for change in the Pacific.
In collaboration with ABC International Development and CARE Vanuatu, Sista launched the Girls Online (GO!) project – an initiative designed to help young women better identify and manage online issues like cyberbullying, image-based abuse and the protection of their privacy. This has included the creation of practical videos and booklets to help girls and women in Vanuatu be safer in their social media use. Based around real-life experiences, the GO! project empowers young women to address the cybersafety issues they care about in ways they can relate to.
Sista runs the Strong Mama Program which provides a space for single mothers to come together and form genuine connections with each other through experience and information sharing. The program centres around workshops that help single mothers understand their rights, develop tools for self-care and the promotion of positive behavior along with encouraging them to use art to express themselves and support their calls for change.
In 2021, Sista held its first ever fashion show – Yumi Gat Style. Building on their ongoing fashion shoot series Sista Gat Style, the fashion show helped to build the capacity of local fashion designers, celebrate Vanuatu culture through fashion and accessories, showcase local handicraft products and empower women and men by promoting body positivity to transform local perceptions of fashion and beauty. The show also provided an opportunity to challenge cultural norms that define how a woman should dress and be perceived in Vanuatu society while celebrating the diversity of ni-Vanuatu women.
Through the We Rise Coalition, Sista has been able to access organisational strengthening opportunities including the development of key policies and staff capacity building and training. Through core funding, Sista has been able to sustain its advocacy work and build its networks, while implementing activities that promote movement building. Sista has revamped its website to showcase the programs and activities of the organisation and create a space for gender-related information, news and initiatives in Vanuatu. In 2022, Sista implemented writing workshops for young women and released its first podcast The Round Table – a platform for young women of the Pacific navigating modern life in the islands that is lifting the veil on unspoken topics.