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Girls & Women

I am (wo)man: Introducing Debbie Masauvakalo

This story was submitted by Debbie Masauvakalo to EmpowerWomen’s I am (wo)man Campaign. Debbie from Vanuatu (pictured above) shares what women’s economic empowerment means to her. Following the devastation of Cyclone Pam our thoughts are with Debbie, her teammates and the people of Vanuatu.

Sometimes commitment is not an easy thing to keep when following your dream. Since narrowly missing London Olympics 2012, we have been working towards qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. As young women going on world tour to qualify for the Olympics, we are forced to leave behind our infants and step out of our traditional role of mothers and housewives. Women in Vanuatu find it hard to break these cultural norms, but we did it. We realise we are different but, growing up, we did not envision or plan this for ourselves. None of us ever thought of even stepping out of our own village. We have represented Vanuatu in so many tournaments around the world, wining many medals and awards including winning the prestigious Pacific Outstanding Team of the Year Award for 2012 & 2013 for our country. We have put Vanuatu on the map in the international sporting arena. Despite that, like most developing countries, women’s sports in Vanuatu have a long way to go. We are heavily reliant on fundraisers, local businesses and IOC Olympic Solidarity. With limited resources, our success is not just phenomenal but also unexpected.

This story is the third one in a weekly series that we are running in collaboration with UN Women and its Empower Women Champions for Women’s Economic Empowerment. Read the previous story here. To contribute to the Campaign, see here.