The Voice of Marshallese Women
Mona Levy-Strauss, C’80, Following Her Call
Empowered by her Saint Mary education, Ramona “Mona” Levy-Strauss (C’80) has dedicated her life to the advancement of women in the Marshall Islands—a sprawling chain of volcanic islands and coral atolls located in the central Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and the Philippines.
Mona, born and raised on the tiny atoll of Majuro, serves as the president for Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI)—the largest women’s non-government organization in the islands with over 22 different chapters representing over 60 women’s groups. She’s led this powerful group of more than 1,000 forward-thinking women for eight years, yet her involvement and support spans across three decades.
Historically, the Marshall Islands has functioned as a matrilineal society, but in time, society has tested this structure and some of its most fundamental traditions. Under Mona’s leadership, WUTMI has tirelessly worked to preserve the cultural knowledge, island environment, and inherent resources, while elevating issues that matter, like gender equality, voter education, early childhood development, substance abuse, and domestic violence.
Since 1989, Mona has also diligently promoted women in handicrafts to be self-sufficient and independent by employing dozens of her “sisters” at her amimono (handicraft) operation. Marshallese women are praised for their weaving skills, and Mona ensures the women’s remarkable crafts are shared and sold with not just the Pacific region, but around the world.
Though 6,000 miles separates Mona from her alma mater, the Saint Mary mission is thriving in the Mashall Islands—forever inscribed on her heart. When asked why she’s dedicated her life to her people, she humbly said, “Ukot baka eo is what God has called me to do.”
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