The women of Vanuatu

“Building on a Strong Foundation” is the motto of today's ecumenical Women's Day of Prayer. Women all over the world participate in this day, as often it is the churches that stand up for equality, education and medical care for women.

This year, the songs, texts and prayers come from women from Vanuatu, an island state in the Pacific which became sovereign in 1980. Vanuatu stretches over 83 tropical islands and 1,300 km of the South Pacific. It suffers extremely from climate change which threatens the islands by drought, floods and cyclones.

Here, too, it is mostly women on whom society relies on for the supply and cohesion of family and community: Women played a key role in the reconstruction of the country that was devastated by cyclone Pam in 2015. They are also pioneers in another important topic: Vanuatu has banned single-use plastic in 2018 and is now number 1 in the world rankings. As a result, traditional techniques are increasingly coming to the fore: Bags woven from natural fibers are replacing plastic bags, for example.

This bag is part of the collection of the Weltkulturen Museum since 1880. Braided with a contrasting pattern of fine coconut palm leaves, it testifies to the patience, care and skill of the women of Vanuatu.

Save the Date: March 8th is International Women's Day.

Good to know: With 110 languages, Vanuatu has the highest language density (languages per inhabitant) in the world.