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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

Published

07 May 2024

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Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Themes

FWRM Holds Rural Community Leaders Workshop to Improve Women’s Access to Justice

22/11/2023

The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement convened a three-day workshop on Fijian Women's Access to Justice – Know your Rights Community Leaders Workshop in Nadi, from the 20-22nd November 2023. The training brought together 15 rural women leaders, representing 9 community-based partners from the northern and western division.

The right to a life free from all forms of violence is a fundamental human right and yet many women and girls in Fiji continue to live in fear and violence. According to FWRM’s Balancing the Scales: Improving Women’s Access to Justice Research Report 2017, it takes a woman an average of 868 days (about 2 and a half years) to access justice from the first time they experience violence and one of the reasons for this delay is lack of awareness of the formal justice sector agencies and pathways.

 “The workshop is important in FWRM’s long-standing access to justice work with greater recognition of working more closely with rural women community leaders. This is something that has come out clearly during our information sessions in the communities as the demand for this training and the urgency is overwhelming.” said FWRM Executive Director Nalini Singh.

FWRM has worked on the area of women’s access to justice over the period of three decades where we have lobbied for progressive legislative and policy reforms promoting greater gender equality and non-discrimination against women, including successfully lobbying for Fiji's Family Law Act (FLA) 2003.  Nonetheless, despite some progressive legislation, women, particularly underprivileged women, continue to confront barriers to accessing institutions and services related to security, protection, and justice.

With the increasing rates of violence experienced by women and girls every year, community-based partners have strongly suggested the great need for communities to understand the laws on domestic violence, crime and family law together with the pathways for access to justice and service providers.

FWRM acknowledges the support of the Australian government under the We Rise Coalition, in supporting our access to justice work for several years now. It is our hope that through this workshop, rural women leaders in the community have an in-depth understanding of the barriers women face in accessing justice, laws and policies, and the access to justice referral pathways for women and girls needing help.

“Supporting gender equality is important to the Australian Government and this is why we have continued to work with partners like the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement to address many of the topics outlined in this week’s workshop. We hope that through participating in information sessions like this, you will be agents of change in your various communities and networks, for the promotion of women’s access to justice. “said DFAT Program Manager Gender (Bilateral) Sheron Narayan.

Eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls needs our collective action and it takes all of us working together, raising awareness and advocating for change. During the workshop, each participant organisations will have an opportunity to institutionalise key learnings from the workshop  into their existing community work.

“We’re grateful to be able to work with these organisations and their interest in this workshop. FWRM hopes to continue this engagement to promote women’s access to justice in their communities,” said Ms Singh.

Ends.

For media queries, please contact FWRM Communications Officer Serelisoni Moceica via email on