Samoan women make Commonwealth Youth Awards 2019 finalists

Two Samoan women who started a business offering affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to single-use, disposable sanitary pads, were among the top 16 finalists of the 2019 Commonwealth Youth Awards.

Angelica Salele and Isabell Rasch joined Sivendra Michael, Zoe Paisley and Lisa Paisley of Fiji and Bobby Siarani of Solomon Islands as finalists from the Pacific.

They were up against 12 other finalists from Africa, Europe, Asia, Caribbean and Canada, chosen from more than 5

 Ms. Salele and Ms. Rasch are the brains behind MANA Care Products, which makes affordable, sustainable and reusable cotton female hygiene products. The washable cotton pads aim to lessen plastic waste and provide local women with an affordable option.

The regional winners were announced in London last night where Bobby Siarani of the Solomon Islands won the Pacific award.

A press statement issued by the Commonwealth says Bobby Siarani founded a bio-gas initiative to address waste disposal and sanitation issues. 

The project delivered biogas-based construction workshops to over 500 young people and has provided clean energy to hundreds of people in rural areas of his country.

Bobby plans to use his Commonwealth grant to take his initiative to remote areas in the Solomon Islands.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, who presented the awards, congratulated the finalists and the eventual winners.

“The pace, depth and scope of development in any society depend on how well its youth are nurtured and supported. This means providing the space for young people to thrive, to contribute and to realise their potential,” she said.

 “In such an environment, they are able to exercise their rights and citizenship, and to find fulfilment and purpose; passing on to others the gains and positive values that come from the true community.”

Other regional winners included:

  • Africa and Europe: Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi, Nigeria, focus on SDG 5: Gender Equality
  • Asia: Padmanaban Gopalan, India, focus on SDG 2: Zero Hunger
  • The Caribbean and Canada: Johanan Dujon, Saint Lucia, focus on SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • The Pacific: Bobby Siarani, Solomon Islands, focus on SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Oluwaseun, who also scooped the overall prize of 2019 Commonwealth Young Person of the Year, set up the ‘Stand to End Rape’ (STER) initiative.

Every year the Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work recognise the exceptional contribution of young people, aged 15-29, of 53 Commonwealth countries who are leading initiatives in view of the sustainable development goals.

 This is the 30th year of the Commonwealth Youth Awards which are run by the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) to promote the innovation, creativity and potential of young people in solving socio-economic and environmental challenges.

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