Involvement of social elites
Nonviolent responses of opponent
Groups in 1st Segment
Groups in 6th Segment
Success in achieving specific demands/goals
Beginning in the late 1970s, women in Chuuk, one of the
states of the Federated States of Micronesia, stepped forward to protest the
abuse of alcohol. The women’s
campaign challenged traditional restrictions on women’s autonomy.
The women acted after a drunken brawl occurred in early 1977
between young men from Weno, an island municipality of Chuuk, and Wonei
Island. In response, the district
administrator called an emergency meeting and women from Fin Anisi, a religious
Each municipality in Micronesia has the ability to decide
upon the sale and consumption of alcohol within its borders. Women who attended the emergency
meeting decided to try to prohibit the sale of alcohol and its consumption. A
change in the law required: a petition containing the signatures of 2/3 of all
registered voters in the municipality in order to hold a special referendum, a
special election within 90 days of submitting the petition, and verification by
the municipal clerk. If a majority
of voters approved the referendum, law required the municipal council to
prepare and adopt legislation in accordance with the public vote.
Two women’s religious groups, Fin Anisi and Mwichen Maria,
circulated petitions in the late spring of 1977. Sympathizers from the Weno or Moen Municipal Council joined
them. The government of Chuuk held
the referendum on July 2, 1977.
The referendum passed and banned the sale and consumption of alcohol on
Weno. Weno was the main port of
entry for the entire Chuuk district and this forced alcohol shipments to be
re-routed. The prohibition of
alcohol resulted in the loss of a significant amount of revenue (from $443,605
to $403) for Weno. The loss of
revenue prompted legislators to attempt to override the Weno ordinance. However, the women continued to protest
against the sale and consumption of alcohol. Members of Fin Anisi and Miwchen Maria organized the women
of Chuuk against the legislature in an attempt to expand prohibition to all 39
The government of Weno created a special committee to make
recommendations to the entire legislature regarding the sale of alcohol by May
1979. The special committee
prompted the women of Weno to take action against the government. Women circulated a statewide petition
against the repeal of the prohibition of alcohol. They received support from the mayor of Weno, as well as the
governor and lieutenant governor of Chuuk. The legislature, however, still refused to hear the
protests of the women and meet with them.
To forcibly get the legislature’s attention, Protestant and
Catholic women’s groups called for a public protest. 200 participants marched to the legislative building holding
signs that detailed the devastating effects of alcohol on family and community. The protests of the women appealed to
the only female member of the legislature. She requested a halt in proceedings so that her male
colleagues could appreciate the signs held by the women protesters.
Women occupied the grounds of the legislature for the next
week and waited for a meeting with the speaker of the legislature. He finally agreed to meet with them and
the women got their chance to present their petition and concerns. Though the legislature continued to
attempt to repeal the prohibition through deceptive methods, the state court
ruled against them and upheld the law stating municipalities had the right to
make their own liquor laws. The legislature made two weaker attempts to attempt
to repeal the laws in 1979 and 1983 but women’s public protests quickly stopped
this threat as well. The women’s efforts successfully convinced the legislature
to stop fighting against the prohibition on alcohol.
The women's strategy to end the sale and consumption of alcohol was influenced by a 1976 conference on alcohol abuse in Honolulu, Hawaii which some of the women attended. (1)
See also: Marshall, Mac and Leslie B Marshall. Silent Voices Speak: Women and Prohibition in Truk. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth, 1990.