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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

Published

11 October 2019

Author

Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Themes

Girls can lead - FWRM calls for attitudinal change towards girls’ abilities and capabilities. 11/10/19

Girls can lead- FWRM calls for attitudinal change towards girls’ abilities and capabilities.

11/10/19

Today marks the International Day of the Girl Child, with the theme “GIRLFORCE: Unscripted and Unstoppable.”

Since 2007, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) has worked with adolescent girls between the ages of 10 -17 years old. Now in its fourth phase, the Grow. Inspire. Lead. Succeed (GIRLS) programme uses creative platforms for activism. Theatre performances coupled with sports, digital storytelling and spoken word events have been utilised as safe and healthy avenues to raise issues faced by the girls involved in the program, including gender stereotypes, bullying and sexism faced at home, in the community and the school environment.

Today FWRM’s GIRLS programme members are calling for better recognition of girls’ leadership. Girls are demanding for a seat at decision making spaces. Girls are calling for leadership spaces that are not tokenistic but one that recognises girls’ added value to decision making -spaces as girls bring in lived realities that should be taken seriously.

Shruti Suhani (12 years old) from Nadi, who is part of the FWRM GIRLS Programme said that “There’s a need to break the cycle of stereotype towards us girls”.

Girls from the FWRM programme have collectively agreed that while there is opportunity for girls to be part of leadership positions in schools, there is still gender bias when this leadership is formally recognised. While girls are prefects or class leaders, there seems to be a lot of favouritism towards boys. Girls through their experience have gone on to say that leadership in schools reflect a scenario where boys’ leadership decisions will take precedence over girls.

“I sometimes do not understand this. And this make me feel bad. I feel like when we further question our teachers’ actions, we’re being further victimised in school,” shared FWRM GIRLS Club member, Ana Dari (15 years old) from Lautoka.

“Of course we can do as well as boys. I think we do more. We are placed with more work or duties as compared to boy leaders but we still manage to finish off our work on time and be good leaders. We just need those adults, especially teachers to stop this type of discrimination,” says 18 years old Akansha Kant from Suva, Alumni of the GIRLS Programme.

Nalini Singh, FWRM Executive Director says that “FWRM takes on an intergenerational approach in improving the status of women, young women and girls’ leadership. Working with girls is a systematic approach in breaking the cycle of women’s lacked representation at leadership levels. Building on girls’ leadership skills learning from girls while girls learn from older women and young women is at the core ensuring feminist principles’ of leadership is carried through a girl’s journey”.

The FWRM GIRLS Programme is supported by the Australian Government through the International Women's Development Agency.

 For more information contact FWRM Communications Officer Maryann Lockington on 8677330 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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