EU and Civil Society Organisations Launch Project on Access to Justice for Marginalized Women

12/5/2016

“The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement has established a regional reputation for its innovative work with diverse women, particularly young women, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LBT) women and other marginalized groups. We are hopeful that through this project, we will find out what access to justice means to marginalized women and work with our partners to address women’s challenges in accessing justice.” – Tara Chetty, Executive Director, FWRM.
Today marks a historic step for the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, FemLINKPACIFIC, Diverse Voices and Action for Equality, Fiji (DIVA) and Haus of Khameleon (HoK) towards the realization of Access to Justice for all Fijian women. The official launch of the project “Balancing the Scales: Improving Access to Justice for Fijian Women” took place at the Fiji Museum this morning and was attended by members of the judiciary, civil society, and the development sector.
The project is funded by the European Union (EU) and aims to enhance understanding of women's rights in relation to justice, particularly marginalised and minority groups of women. Through the implementation of ‘Balancing the Scales’, the project will contribute to a more enabling environment for women's access to justice.

The project will be implemented by FWRM and FemLINKPACIFIC and provide support to DIVA and Haus of Khameleon.

H.E Andrew Jacobs, the EU Ambassador to Fiji and the Pacific, stressed the determination of the EU to enhance women and LBT's rights in relation to justice, a week before the international day against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia: "The European Union is committed to intensifying its support to ensure universal and non-discriminatory access to justice, with a particular focus on women and LBT women, who face challenges in accessing those services. The Balancing the Scales project, by including national research, consultations and campaigns to increase awareness on the barriers faced by women and LBT in accessing justice, is a major step towards gender equality in the justice sector."

When women benefit, their communities benefit. Strengthening women’s access to justice, including gender justice, means improving the lived realities of Fijian families.

Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, Executive Producer/Director, FemLINKPacific further highlights the significance of effective, strong partnerships: “This collaboration will both ensure we also strengthen women's leadership at the district level and also contribute to the development and production of women's led media particularly through community radio broadcasts in rural Fiji, as well as FemTALK 89FM Suva and Labasa. We are very excited about the possibility of producing radio programmes, which continue to link rural women with legal support!"

The project involved a national research project, consultations and information sessions over the next three years, and plans to pilot a free legal clinic towards the end of the project. A national media campaign is also planned to increase awareness on the multiple barriers faced by women in accessing justice.