Young woman leader and advocate gone too soon.
9th May, 2016
She was passionate.
She was dedicated to youth development and improving the lives of young women through creative arts. The late Rita Norman was an inspiration to Pacific Youth.
The Vanuatu native was a member of the Pacific Young Women Leader Alliance and was remembered by her colleagues and friends for her enthusiasm and energy.
In an interview with Radio Australia in 2014, Rita expressed her love for community work and youth development. Instead of attending university, she chose to pursue her passion in advocacy and joined Youth Challenge Vanuatu before being accepted into the Future Leader Program.
“I will always remember Rita as an inspirational advocate who resonated so much passion and love for the work that she did,” wrote Yoshika Capelle, Pacific Young Women Leadership Alliance (PYWLA) member and Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development advisory board member.
Yoshiko attended a PYWLA gathering with Rita at the Triennial in Rarotonga 2013. She was a room-mate of Rita’s and shared a fond memory,
“During our PYWLA gathering at the Triennial in Rarotonga 2013, she promised a few of us that she was going to lobby hard with her country delegation to have our statement included in their negotiations.”
“I remember her excited voice when we went back to our hotel that night telling me that she has been invited to sit with her delegation during the conference. Later that night, our excitement dropped when we went down to the beach to light candles in memory of another sister that we had lost to violence. We made a promise that night that as an alliance, we will continue to lobby, advocate and fight so that our children are welcomed into a better world.”
Rita went on to enroll into APTC after returning from the Cook Islands and graduated with a Certificate in Youth Work. In addition to her work with PYWLA, Rita was also the Youth Centre Coordinator at Wan Smolbag Theatre in Vanuatu. The NGO was well known mostly in Fiji for the series “Love Patrol” and is dedicated to upskilling and empowering young people.
“We haven’t forgotten that promise (we made with Rita) and we will continue our work for Rita and all our sisters in the Pacific who have become our guiding lights. The alliance and sisterhood will miss Rita dearly. We will never forget.”
For more information please contact Mamta Chand at