Shinobu Mailo Poll, a veteran public servant with over 38 years in management and nursing posts, retired from the health field in 1996. She became president of the Chuuk Women's Council (CWC), a women's umbrella organization in 1997. Her continued presidency has improved CWC's public profile and its leadership role in gender empowerment in the state and nation, manifested locally in CWC's Small Micro-enterprise Development program, Handicraft Shop and Market Stall and regionally in projects like Pacific Diabetes Today and Pacific Regional HIV/AIDS.
"I have always known I have a greater social responsibility to help the needy," says Shinobu Mailo Poll, a health professional and traditional women's leader in Chuuk. Such sentiments led to her career at Chuuk State Hospital, retiring as chief nurse in 1996. Her greatest contribution to the health field was the establishment of high quality nursing procedures and standards. She retired early because she had "lived her dream" but realized there was a limit to her powers to effect change. As president of Chuuk Women's Council (CWC), she realized she was "better off than most women of my state," so she started the Small Micro-Enterprise Development (SMED) program to intensify her commitment to Chuuk women and people: "One day at the hospital, I met a very sick woman. She was given a prescription and left. Later, I saw her, alone and miserable, at a clinic. She said she could not pay for her medicine. My heart broke for her: I paid for her medicine and sent her home. I swore then that CWC would do whatever it takes to help women like her. Thus our SMED program was born. It trains unemployed women and at-risk youth in handicraft-making, lei-making, sewing and such. The little they earn from selling their products helps with basic needs. I hope to expand CWC but we need more secure funding: we raise funds now from handicrafts, food sales, user fees from the market stalls. My vision for women is self-reliance and empowerment through the expansion of SMED, a women's center, getting women into decision-making roles. I hope our good track record for running community initiatives like the diabetes and HIV/AIDS projects attracts the donor support we need. Meanwhile, our SMED experience is encouraging and we will carry on with our own meagre resources."
Chuuk Women's Council (CWC) FSM Women's Association Network Chuuk Government Women's Affairs