Not all disabilities are visible

Margaret Song from Vanuatu Society for People with Disability calls for women and girls with disabilities to be respected in a video message for this year’s Standap Strong Akensem Vaelens campaign. PHOTO: Ben + Gaga/Groovy Banana

“We women and girls with a disability have the same rights as everyone else. We deserve to have the same respect. Respect is honourable,” says Margaret Song, from Vanuatu Society for People with Disability, in a video message released today on International Day of People with Disabilities.

The message is part of a series of video messages from 16 people from Vanuatu’s business, government, sports, arts and other communities.

The videos are being released daily over the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence from 25 November to 10 December.

Produced by CARE Vanuatu and Sista with support from the Australian Government, the New Zealand Government and the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme, the video series is part of Vanuatu’s annual Standap Strong Akensem Vaelens campaign. The video messages can be seen at

This year’s theme for International Day of People with Disabilities is: “Not all disabilities are visible.” According to research by CBM, women and girls with disabilities in Vanuatu are two to three times more likely to experience physical or sexual abuse, and one in five women acquired a permanent disability due to physical or sexual violence by their partner.

According to CARE Vanuatu Country Director Megan Chisholm, that needs to change. “Regardless of who we, and what our abilities or disabilities are, we all deserve respect and have a right to safety,” she says.

“Tragically, not all violence is visible either,” says Yasmine Bjornum, Executive Director of Sista.

“It is often perpetrated by people who should care for the survivor the most.

“We want to build a Vanuatu where everyone is living out the values that our first Prime Minister, Father Walter Lini taught: Respect is honourable.”

President Obed Moses Talllis, Chief Motarilavoa Hilda Lini, Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation CEO Francis Herman and musician Yosh Shing also share their messages in the video series.

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