Alicia, 24, hails from the islands of Efate and Ambae in Vanuatu. She is the oldest of four girls.
Alicia’s earliest memories of her childhood were of the outdoor adventurous life. After school, she would often help her grandfather feed his pigs inside his pig fence located at the back of their yard. Alicia and her siblings would spend most of their free time playing outdoors or helping their father or grandfather with chores around their yard. From developing this love for nature as a kid, Alicia grew up to be an outgoing, adventurous young lady.
Later, she had the opportunity to complete her high school years in New Zealand. Being away from home in her teenage years gave her the freedom she needed to discover herself, her potential and her voice. Whilst studying there, she was elected the international student leader and learned the value of respect, responsibility and relationships. Alicia explained why these values are still close to her heart today, “When you respect another, you attract the same respect, for it is your responsibility to build a trustworthy relationship with your people as a leader.”
“When you respect another, you attract the same respect, for it is your responsibility to build a trustworthy relationship with your people as a leader.”
Little did she know that the decision to come home after several years of studying abroad would lead to many challenges, starting with the strong opposition between her views on gender equality and some traditional aspects of her home culture. Once back home, she was told off for wearing clothes that were ‘showing off too much skin,’ or were ‘too short,’ and so on. Regardless, she persisted and stood her ground that as a young woman she had the right to wear whatever she liked and felt comfortable in.
She saw the discrimination and domestic violence women faced. She saw blaming and shaming of women for their choices, for what they wore or said or did. She wanted to break the blame cycle and help create a safer environment for herself, her sisters and the women of Vanuatu.
With a determined mindset, Alicia worked to challenge gender inequality in any way she could. She took up a leadership role in her church youth group as an education leader and became the secretary for Presbyterian youth in South Efate. It is that same spirit that motivated her to start working as a counsellor at the Vanuatu Women’s Centre, providing counseling to women who have experienced domestic violence. It also encouraged her to continue expanding her leadership knowledge and skills, and eventually led her to apply for CARE’s Young Women’s Leadership Program (YWLP) in 2020.