USP alumnus an epitome of women empowerment in Tonga


Malia Benedine Fa’asolo, a founding member, former president, and current member of Tonga Women in ICT (TWICT), is committed to empowering women in Tonga.

She attributes her success to her education at The University of the South Pacific (USP), emphasising her time as a student at USP provided her with some of the most memorable and instructive years of her life.

Malia stated that the Tonga Women in ICT (TWICT) organisation, also known as CocoNECT, has expanded to over 40 members, some of whom have joined from abroad, from humble beginnings gathering around a table in a café three years ago.

CocoNECT, she explained, is a group of young women who are enthusiastic about information and communication technologies (ICT).

“These women work as computer programmers and network engineers in line ministries and the private sector, and they want to develop and promote women in ICT, which is a male-dominated industry in Tonga,” Malia explained.

“After their first meeting, the group decided on the name CocoNECT; ‘Coco’ stands for coconuts, which symbolise islanders, and ‘NECT’ refers for its connection to the world wide web of technology.”

She explained that because there are few women in the profession, this group was formed to provide an avenue for sharing information about scholarship programs, internships, training opportunities, online networks, and other resources.

“Young women from all walks of life, backgrounds, and educational levels can use this platform to share their experiences and knowledge about ICT tools, platforms, and gadgets in school, work, and projects, or simply in everyday life when connecting with families, friends, colleagues, teachers, schools, local communities, and the global community,” Malia emphasised.

“Let us not limit ourselves, for the sky is our limit,” she advises women.

“Aim high to the sky, as James McDonald wrote in a poem that I quoted: In whatever you do, aim high to the sky. You never know what it takes to be who you are. Be brave and strong, but always remember to be kind.”

Malia earned a Bachelor of Science (BSC) in 2010 and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 2017 from USP.

“I believe that changing my subject of study to Masters in Business Administration has inspired my fellow female IT professionals to realise that we may not only work in IT as engineers or programmers but also as managers. Our current TWICT president is also pursuing her MBA with USP,” she added.

“Background in IT management and leadership is a massive help in comprehending and implementing computerised manual jobs. It improves the efficiency and effectiveness of work.”

She was awarded a scholarship to study for a PhD in Business Administration in Beijing, China, in 2018.

She stated she would be eternally grateful for this chance because she was able to study and live and experience China’s distinct culture, changing her entire outlook on the country.

She has also published her first PhD research paper, which can be downloaded from the following link:

She advised students to interact with experienced students and people in the same field and interest and never be afraid to seek help when needed.

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