By Shazia Usman
Shazia is a feminist activist, working as the Communications Officer for the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) for the past two years. She’ll be graduating with a MA in Pacific Media Studies in September.
This article was originally published in FWRM’s publication “Balance” and has been cross posted with permission. You can find FWRM’s website here.
Women leaders’ from all across the country united in April and June this year to take part in the Fiji Consultation on Women’s Participation in National Democratic Processes (Women’s Forum) to develop a series of time bound strategic actions to ensure that the upcoming political processes including the constitution consultation in the lead up to the return to parliamentary democracy takes into account conventions, treaties and commitments to women’s human rights. Over the last couple of months, we have had numerous queries from the public on what exactly is the FWF and how does it assist the women of Fiji. The key points below summarise everything you need to know about FWF.
1. What is the Fiji Women’s Forum (FWF)?
The Fiji Women’s Forum (short for the Fiji Consultation on Women’s Participation in National Democratic Processes) is a national consultation to discuss the participation of women in national democratic processes. Women’s full and meaningful engagement in all national processes is essential to human rights centred development, and to full and effective democratization. Women are already participants and decision-makers in all areas of state and civil society, but their views are minimized, blocked or tokenized when formal processes regarding constitutionality and governance are nationally debated and decided.
2. Who are conveners of the FWF?
The co-conveners of the FWF are the:
National Council of Women Fiji
The NCWF is a nongovernmental organisation, established in 1968 to be the focal point for the women of Fiji. Today it is one of the strongest bodies in the country that voices Fiji women’s concerns. It is also the umbrella organisation of women NGO’s in Fiji.
Established in 1924, this nongovernmental organisation focuses on uplifting the lives of all i Taukei women above the age of 16 in the 14 provinces; promising women’s equal participation in decision-making; empowering women economically and socially; preserving and promoting indigenous heritage, culture and tradition including language, song, dance and handicraft.
femLINKPACIFIC was established in September 2000 and is registered under the Charitable Trust Act in Fiji. The overarching focus of femLINKPACIFIC’s range of community media initiatives is “women speaking to women for peace”, a direct link with the women’s peace initiatives during the May 2000 crisis, in particular the Blue Ribbon Peace Vigil, where femLINKpacific was “born”.
Fiji Women’s Rights MovementFWRM <
is a 26-year-old multiethnic and multicultural feminist nongovernmental organisation that combines local concerns with a global perspective. It is committed to removing discrimination against women through institutional reforms and attitudinal changes. Our vision is for the women of Fiji to be free from all forms of discrimination, have equal access to opportunities and to live in a healthy environment where the principles of feminism, democracy, good governance, multiculturalism and human rights prevail.
3. How many consultations have there been?
There have been two national consultations this year on the following dates:
- April 10th – 12th, 2012
- June 5th – 6th, 2012
A third consultation will be conducted in January 2013.
4. Who were the participants of the FWF?
The first consultation was attended by 60 women and the second by 62 women, coming from rich and diverse backgrounds – speaking with voices that represent women with disabilities and living with HIV, as well as different faiths, culture, sexualities, gender identities, ages, demographics and opinions.
5. What are the key principles of the FWF?
- Respect for human rights
- Respect for the rule of law
6. What were the outcomes of the two FWF’s held in April and June?
- During the FWF held in April, the participants agreed on the following four priority areas:
- Respect for human rights.
- Defining the role of the security forces.
- Promotion of women’s participation in decision making and democratization processes including Temporary Special Measures.
- A rights based, respectful, open and participatory constitution making process. During the second FWF held in June, the participants
- devised clear set of strategies on how they will work together to address the four priority areas including:
- Civic Education strategies such as the development of a rights based civic education curriculum and the use of a multi media and
- information sharing strategy.
- Addressing security sector governance including through enhancing and promoting a human security approach through collaborative
- research, policy advocacy and campaigns.
- Enhancing women’s participation in decision making and democratization processes including Temporary Special Measures especially as we recognise we are part of a national process of rebuilding political participation including localgovernment and national parliamentary system.
- A rights based, respectful, open and participatory constitution making process through enhanced participatory learning and collaboration for submissions that are human rights based and promote gender equality. In particular, women leaders will be making submissions on a strengthened Bill of Rights that includes a definition of substantive equality and the full range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural
7. What is the FWF position on the upholding of the 2009 Court of Appeal and the position that all other actions by the state is illegal?
The FWF is made up of diverse organisations with different positions on this issue; we however, as a coalition have respect for and promote the upholding the rule of law at all times.
8. What other activities is the FWF undertaking?
As part of the strategies formulated during the national FWF on the four priority areas, the
following activities are being undertaken:
- FWF Civic Education Module Development
- FWF Civic Education Training of Trainers
- Implementation of FWF civic education programmes in communities
- Finalising a Women’s Political Participation Policy Paper
- Finalising a FWF Constituent Assembly Policy Paper
- Preparing for the 3rd FWF on Security SectorGovernance
9. Representatives of the FWF include:
- Amithi Project
- Citizen’s Constitutional Forum
- Dialogue Fiji
- Emerging Leaders’ Forum Alumni
- femLINKPACIFIC’s Gold Foundation
- femLINKPACIFIC’s Nausori Rural Women’s Association
- Fiji Media Watch
- Fiji Muslim Women’s League
- Fiji Rotuma Association
- Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre
- Fiji Women’s Rights Movement
- Fiji Network of people living with HIV (FJN+)
- Nasinu Sanatan Naari Sabha
- National Council of Women
- Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding
- Poor Relief Society (affiliate of the National Council of Women)
- Rainbow Women
- Shree Sanatan Dharam Naari Prathinidhi Sabha
- Soqosoqo Vakamarama
- Strategic Framework for Change Coordinating Office
- Survivor Advocacy Network
- TISI Sangam
- Women’s Action for Change
- Women’s Information Network (WINET-Fiji)
- Youth Champs for Mental Health
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