Australia hosts first ever Women and Girls Festival at Pohnpei Swimming pool

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Australian Embassy
March 10, 2017
Pohnpei, FSM—The Australian Embassy hosted the first ever Women and Girls Festival held on Friday 10 March at the Pohnpei Swimming Pool, to celebrate International Women’s Day. The Australian Embassy organised the Festival in collaboration with the Pohnpei Swimming Club, the National Olympic Committee (NOC), the Pohnpei State Government’s Department of Social Affairs, the US Embassy and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The Festival included short swimming races by age group, an art contest, and a free film screening and food, and health screenings and information booths.
The Festival was open to all women and girls to give them an opportunity to participate in sports - especially swimming - and to encourage healthy lifestyles. The event was open to women and girls only, particularly for those who may not otherwise feel confident to swim in public.
The event was attended by more than 150 women and girls, including traditional leaders, members of the national and state government and the diplomatic corps - notably, Nanei Nett Mrs Elizabeth Hadley, Mrs Denise Huang of the Australian Embassy, Mrs Fatima Nobio Ynot, and Ms Joanne Cummings of the US Embassy, and Mrs Yuko Horie of the Japanese Embassy.

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Master of Ceremonies, Eliza Woolcock, Second Secretary & Consul of the Australian Embassy, emphasised that the purpose of the event was to promote gender equality in the FSM, and to inspire women and girls to improve their health and that of their families. Eliza invited all women and girls present to swim and to participate in the swimming races and art contest.
The event also celebrated the completion of Australia’s US$23,000 Direct Aid Program (DAP) grant to the Pohnpei Swimming Pool, to provide critical and sustainable infrastructure for the pool and promote the prevention of non-communicable diseases through exercise at the Pohnpei Swimming Pool.
The event started with a free swimming session for everyone followed by swimming competitions by age group: 8-10 years, 11-13 years, 14-16 years, 16-30 and 30 plus years. There were two races for each age group: one 25 metre freestyle and one 25 metre breaststroke race.
Free food and refreshments were available for all participants after the swimming competition, kindly provided by the US Embassy. Pohnpei State hospital provide free health screenings and health information for women and girls.
IOM held an art contest during the event, with the theme “A Woman Who Inspires Me”. The contest was very successful with over 45 entries. The winners were as follows:
High School/College Students:
1. Francesca Ruwetan
2. Leah Laamad
3. Shary Lee Ling
Elementary Students:
1. Shantelle Ponapart
2. Piper Parker
3. Abigail Alosima
All 6 winners received prizes generously donated by Ace Office.
The US Embassy provided a free film screening on the Swimming Pool grounds, which was followed by a discussion led by Deputy Head of Mission, Joanne Cummings.
The Australian Embassy would like to thank the Pohnpei Swimming Club and NOC for agreeing to host the event with the Australian Embassy. We would also like to thank Pohnpei State Social Affairs for providing health screenings and information; IOM for organising the art contest; the US Embassy for organising the food and the film screening, and Ace Office Supplies for donating prizes for the winners of the Art contest. Thank you also to Rachel Weinheimer for taking great photos at the events.
We hope this event will encourage more women to come and swim at the swimming pool. The Swimming Club was very supportive of the event and hopes to see more women and girls join their swim teams, become lifeguards or make the most of this fabulous facility for health and recreation.