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11 November 2022

Cook Islands celebrates International Women’s Day with ‘Inspire Inclusion’ talks

Friday 8 March 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National

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Cook Islands celebrates International Women’s Day with ‘Inspire Inclusion’ talks
Vaine Nooana-Arioka on board Anuanua Moana. She is the In-country manager of Moana Minerals who are undertaking Seabed Exploration – an emerging industry. MOANA MINERALS/24030703

Today is International Women’s Day and the Cook Islands is celebrating with events featuring prominent women speakers.

Helen Henry, patron of the Cook Islands Business and Professional Women’s Association (CIBPW) said: “As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2024 and reflect on the theme of ‘Inspire Inclusion’, let us reaffirm our commitment to creating an environment here in the Cook Islands where all women are empowered, valued, respected and included.”

Henry added that being a member of CIBPW has taught her that every woman’s success can be an inspiration to another.

“We are strongest when we empower and cheer each other on.”

To mark the occasion, the Cook Islands National Council of Women (CINCW) will be holding an event at the Punanga Nui Market this morning from 10am – 12 noon, celebrating the international theme of “Te Vaine kia turu’ia: Tupu’anga kia Tere – Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress”.

CINCW president Vaine Wichman and vice president Teio Kea will be speaking at this event, along with several women who will discuss the advantages of the digital space for economic empowerment.

Speakers include Pua Hunter – former director of Information Technology at the Office of the Prime Minister, Debi Futter-Puati – director of USP Cook Islands, Mii Nimerota – director of the Centre of Excellence in Information Technology, business owner Tuaine Manuela and 19-year-old Terry Tangimataiti from Mangaia who is currently undertaking studies in IT towards a degree.

Tonight, the CIBPW will be celebrating the achievements and contributions of women with a line-up of three distinguished speakers on the theme “Inspire Inclusion” at the Lucky Rooster Eatery (next door to CITC Mainstore) in Avarua, starting at 6pm.

Joyana Finch will be sharing her insights, experiences and vision for a more inclusive future.

She is working remotely as a controls engineer while running her own online business, Mrs. J Finch, creating premium children’s books while raising her three young daughters.

Finch has represented the nation in sport, in pageant at Miss South Pacific, in film and television, and was the first Pacific woman in world history to graduate in Mechatronic Engineering.

Vaine Nooana-Arioka is a trailblazer, promoting diversity and inclusion and is a strong advocate for women. She is the in-country manager of Moana Minerals, a company delving into seabed exploration – an emerging industry, committed to expanding knowledge through exploration.

Nooana-Arioka was the Bank of the Cook Islands (BCI) managing director from 2008, later taking on the role as its chief executive officer (CEO) in 2020, and after 14 years in the banking space, resigned last year.

She has always been active in and a strong supporter of women in the community holding board positions in non-government and government organisations which include: the Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce, Mediation Cook Islands, Cook Islands Women’s Counselling Centre Punanga Tauturu Inc and the Business Trade Investment Board.

Valery Wichman is a lawyer working as the director of central policy and planning at the Office of the Prime Minister.

One of her projects was the development of the National Population Policy and also Te Ara Akapapa’anga Nui 2020+ focused on the 100-year vision towards Turanga Meitaki (wellbeing).

Wichman has completed a Masters in International Development with her thesis on Turanga Meitaki (wellbeing) and the LGBTQI+ Anuanua (Rainbow LGBTQ) community in the Cook Islands.

She recently received the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law – a historic achievement for the Cook Islands, for her dedication and advocacy for the LGBTQI+ Anuanua community, making a profound impact not just locally but internationally as well.

Tonight, the CIBPW will be celebrating the achievements and contributions of women with a line-up of three distinguished speakers on the theme “Inspire Inclusion” at the Lucky Rooster Eatery (next door to CITC Mainstore) in Avarua, at 6pm.

General admission for tonight’s event is $50, and VIP tickets are $70.