Nurse Anne Pakoa Wins United States Women of Courage Award for Vanuatu

Port Vila, Vanuatu | June 26, 2015

A woman receiving an award. (Photo Credit: State Dept.)

Ambassador North presents the ‘Women of Courage’ award to Ms. Anne Pakoa at the Vanuatu Cultural Center, June 23, 2015. Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet stands in the background

Grassroots leader in healthcare reform and medical education programs for Vanuatu, Ms. Anne L. Pakoa was honored this week with the U.S. Department of State’s Secretary’s International Women of Courage Award.

U.S. Ambassador to Vanuatu, Walter North presented Ms. Pakoa the award in recognition for her continuous work in creating educational and professional employment opportunities for the women of Vanuatu. The U.S. Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet also attended the award ceremony and praised Ms. Pakoa’s leadership and lifetime achievements in helping Vanuatu’s nursing professionals.

Ambassador North said, “Anne exhibits courage. She has always been a strong advocate for women’s rights, facing numerous challenges as a woman living in Vanuatu. By honoring Ms. Pakoa today, we recognize her dedication, commitment, and resolve to achieve so much more for all women and not just for herself.”

The U.S. Department of State’s Secretary’s International Women of Courage Award is an annual event that honors women around the globe who have exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality, and social progress, often at great personal risk.

Ms. Pakoa graduated from the Vanuatu School of Nursing (now Vanuatu College of Nursing) in 1990. After graduating from the Vanuatu School of Nursing, she became a practicing nurse and by 1994 was teaching health programs at the University of Papua New Guinea in Goroka. She subsequently returned to Vanuatu and taught at Vanuatu’s College of Nursing for several years before receiving an education award from the Australian Agency for International Development (AUSAID) for a post graduate program in Education Administration at Melbourne University in 1999, majoring in education policy processes.

Ms. Pakoa initiated the development of the Neil Thomas Ministries Christian University Hospital and formed a basic community health nursing curriculum, which evolved into a community health school.

In a nation where women are often marginalized, face abuse, experience violence, and are far too often discriminated against, Ms. Pakoa has set an outstanding example as a medical professional, wife, mother, and civil society leader.

Currently, Ms. Pakoa continues to lead courageously. She is an outspoken female voice for teachers’ welfare. Her ongoing advocacy and work on behalf of Vanuatu’s female population, young women, and professional nurses sets the example and contributed toward her recognition as Vanuatu’s 2015 Woman of Courage.

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