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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

Women and Girls' Health

Women’s autonomy over their bodies and health is essential to improve gender equality and women’s human rights. In reality, women’s access to health is a concern. Breast and cervical cancer remain among the top five deaths for women in the country overall according to 2018 research by FWRM. Women and girls still face social, political and cultural barriers to controlling their sexuality, sexual and reproductive health. Discrimination and the prevalence of gender-based violence is a threat to women’s health and lives.

FWRM continues to advocate for women’s rights to health and safety across the intersectional issues that impact women’s and girls’ lives. FWRM firmly believes that women’s rights to sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing are human rights.

Currently, FWRM is working on the experiences of women during menopause, challenges and interventions needed.

Menstrual Health & Pacific Menstrual Health Network (PMHN)

In 2020, FWRM joined the Pacific Menstrual Health Network, continuing its commitment to promote and raise awareness on women’s SRHR. The network was set up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, recognising the secondary impacts of crisis situations on women and girls ability to access and manage health and hygiene needs.

FWRM then participated in the Pacific regional campaign in collaboration with WaterAid Australia, Queenpads, Pacific Disability Forum, Mamma’s Laef Vanuatu, AusAID and Kaleko SteiFree - members of PMHN, to break the silence and put the spotlight on menstrual health and investment. As part of the campaign, FWRM disseminated awareness material and infographics widely on social media, that was shared to partners and across networks.

Under this network, FWRM has also organised a number of activities such as the Let's Talk Periods festival in 2023 led by the Deaf Girl participants of FWRM's Grow.Inspire.Relate.Lead.Succeed (GIRLS) programme. This event also included an intergenerational panel where panellists shared their experiences with menstruation and menopaues whilst calling for more open conversations around menstruation to address issues with women and girls’ reproductive and sexual health.

     

   

Cancer Services, Screening & Treatment

FWRM in partnership with the Asian Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW) embarked on a groundbreaking and much needed research in 2018 on women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Fiji. The research focused on cancer services and treatment available for women as it comes at a time where to date, the rate of female reproductive cancers in the country are significantly high as of 2017.

This research was a continuation of FWRM’s commitment to promote SRHR which was mostly centered around women’s health; the knowledge and use of contraceptives and female condoms; and empowering women to take control of their own sexuality.

The research found that breast and cervical cancer are the top two of five deaths for women in Fiji overall. Given this, the urgency and onus is on the research to address the high rates of female reproductive cancers in the country; investigate the types of cancer services and treatment available for women; assess the efficiency of these services; identify gaps and recommend sustainable solutions.

 

Child Marriages in Fiji

In 2022 the Fiji Bureau of Statistics released shocking statistics of child marriages still occurring in Fiji. It showed a 12% prevalence rate in the Northern Division. FWRM quickly strategised to conceptualise and conduct consultations in small pocket groups of women in Labasa, Suva, Nadi, Lautoka, Ba and Rakiraki. These consultations intended to hear from women the reasons as to why child marriages are still occurring in Fiji, even though there are legislative provisions via the Marriages Act which make it illegal for child marriage to happen.

Women’s voices were captured in a short research paper, which was released through a High Level Stakeholder’s Meeting held in Suva in later part of the year that included government ministries such as the Ministry for Children and Health, formal justice sector agencies like Police and Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP). In addition, faith based organisations and local NGOs/CSOs who work in the area of child protection were also invited to be part of the discussions on child marriage.

The Fiji Bureau of Statistics presented their data which led to Fiji now having its first prevalence rate on child marriages. A factsheet has been produced by FWRM to create more awareness on the issue, and target prevention of child marriages. This could be used by stakeholders in their workplans and planned activities.