Remember her name, remember her contribution: Dr Mridula Prasad – Rest in Power and Love
The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) sends its sincere and warm condolences to the family and friends of the late Dr Mridula Prasad who passed away early last week. The health practitioner served on FWRM’s management committee for more than five years prior to the 2000 political crisis and was a long time member of the feminist organisation.
Dr Mridula was a strong advocate for the advancement of women’s health, in particular women’s sexual and reproductive rights at a time when these issues were considered private and often only discussed in the context of sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDs. Some of the early work that FWRM initiated on sexual and reproductive rights was under the guidance of Dr Mridula. The United National Population Fund in September 1999 recognised her strong advocacy for women’s sexual and reproductive rights and awarded her with a regional award for Reproductive Health and Rights.
FWRM members have many anecdotes about Dr Mridula.
Raijeli Drodrolagi shared, “a vivid memory that I have of Dr Mridula as a strong advocate for women’s health and rights, is when she convinced some of the FWRM staff and management committee members to trial the female condom. She made it necessary that if we were to speak about contraceptives then weneeded to come from a place of knowledge and experience. This was Dr Mridula – very matter of fact.”
Praveen Sharma noted that “Dr Mridula was the other side of the coin for FWRM – one side was focused on legal and economic rights and she was focused on healing and empowering from within, protecting women against sexual violence, empowering women to take control of their sexuality, making informed decisions. She made us complete.”
Dr Mridula was a member of the FWRM management committee up until the 1999 national elections, the first polls under the progressive 1997 Fiji Constitution. Dr Mridula resigned from the civil service and FWRM’s governance body to stand in the elections. Dr Mridula was one of the few Fijian women at the time that stepped up as a candidate for Fiji’s legislature. After the elections, she went into private practice and continued to contribute her knowledge on women’s health to a wide variety of community groups such as the Fiji AIDS Task Force and FRIENDS.
Dr Mridula was passionate in her beliefs and stood up for vulnerable women and men. She is remembered as a strong, dedicated and tireless campaigner for women’s health and empowerment. She will be missed by FWRM, the women’s and feminist movement of Fiji and we thank Dr Mridula for being part of our journey.