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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

Published

05 July 2023

Author

Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Themes

Let's Treat our Champions Right!

16/06/2023

Let's treat our champions right!

FWRM is disappointed with the treatment of our national women's rugby teams after social media posts from the team members revealed yet again the depth of the discrimination the women experienced from the Fiji Rugby Union in relation to delays in their payments and overall treatment.

Women in sports, particularly male-dominated sports such as rugby face multiple layers of discrimination and in the early years of participation in Fiji, would often be jeered at and ridiculed by spectators, used as curtain raisers and entertainment for the main men's matches afterwards.

"We have all proudly witnessed the rise of women's rugby in recent years as our national women rugby players, who have despite the odds stacked against them, continued to prove women's capabilities in the sport ultimately becoming champions in the 2023 women's Super Rugby competition and Oceanic Women's Rugby in 2022,” said FWRM Executive Director Nalini Singh.

And yet, despite all the hard work, the commitment, time and dedication given to the sport, it is saddening to read about the situation for our champion women's rugby team, who have continued to face this ongoing issue of non-payment of services, accommodation challenges, and according to Facebook posts by Fijiana Drua current captain Sereima Leweniqila, former captain Bitilia Tawake and team member Asinate Serevi, the team has had to keep fighting to get what the players deserve. This is sad for Fiji Rugby.

"Recent media reports that the team has finally been paid. Is this how it's going to be for women rugby players who rely on the sport for their livelihoods? Do they have to keep begging to be treated equally as their male counterparts despite having proven their capabilities how many times over? Is Fiji Rugby Union going to continue meting out this discriminatory behaviour against our women rugby players?" Ms Singh said.

FWRM reminds the FRU that they must treat the players with respect, fairness and transparency. Mindsets have evolved and majority of the Fijian people have backed support for both the women's and men's rugby teams. It is high time that FRU stomps down on the patriarchal attitude and ensures that dues are paid for services rendered.

FWRM is proud of the achievements of the Fijian women's rugby teams that continue to break stereotypes in the male-dominated sports and in turn inspire other women and girls in sports and rugby hoping to don a jersey some day to represent their favourite club and their country.