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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

Published

21 May 2020

Author

Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Themes

We Rise Coalition – Expressing Solidarity Across the Pacific during the COVID19 pandemic 21/05/20

The We Rise Coalition is made up of three feminist organisations: femLINKpacific, Fiji Women's Rights Movement and the International Women's Development Agency. The goal of the We Rise Coalition is to develop, demonstrate and strengthen feminist coalitions and partnerships in order to grow and uphold inclusive governance, equality, diversity, justice and women’s human rights.

We Rise Coalition – Expressing Solidarity Across the Pacific during the COVID19 pandemic

21/05/2020

The We Rise Coalition is in solidarity with Pacific feminists, women human rights defenders, partners, allies and humanitarian workers at the front lines of the global pandemic crisis who are amplifying the voices of women and girls in all their diversities.[1]

It has been one year since Pacific feminists committed to the Pacific Feminist Charter Action Plan[2] at the 2nd Pacific Feminist Forum. The significance of this strengthened solidarity and Action Plan is crucial now more than ever with the emergence of the novel 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19).

As Pacific feminists, we recognise the unique context of the region, the diversities of Pacific cultures, experiences and the multiple social, political, economic and ecological challenges we face in our realities. These struggles and barriers of existing pervasive and entrenched inequalities, gendered hierarchies, patriarchy and other oppressive systems faced by women, girls, gender non conforming people and marginalised communities in the Pacific have now been underlined and further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Pacific feminists navigating through this crisis, we commit to the collective principles and voices enshrined in the Pacific Feminist Charter for Change[3] to affirm our vibrant, transformative activism and feminism. The Pacific Feminist Charter for Change is a manifestation of Pacific feminist solidarity, endorsed by over 150 women human rights defenders at the inaugural Pacific Feminist Forum in 2016. Strengthening this work is the Pacific Feminist Action Plan mapping the way forward on addressing intersectional issues across the vast span of the region through sustaining solidarity, strengthening resistance and revolution.

During COVID-19, women and girls continue to face violence online and in their homes. Women’s Crisis Centres across the Pacific are reporting increased calls to domestic violence helplines. The We Rise Coalition calls for all women – including those with disabilities and women with diverse sexuality and gender identity – to have access to healthcare, without discrimination.

The We Rise Coalition reiterates the Pacific Feminist Charter for Change to recognise the leadership of women of all ages, including older women, young women and girls, and women of all intersectional identities. The We Rise Coalition is calling on Pacific Governments to include women and girls in all decision-making processes related to the response and recovery of communities affected by COVID-10. All agencies (Government, UN and otherwise) have a responsibility to ensure the rights of women and girls are protected during COVID-19 lockdowns in the interim period and to ensure that their needs will be met in the long run.

As co-convenors of the Pacific Feminist Forum, the We Rise Coalition also calls on Pacific Governments to ensure the safety and security of vulnerable communities during the various stages of lockdowns and restrictions due to COVID-19 by supporting the work of grassroots organisations.

The PFF Charter Action Plan emphasises enhancing feminist collaboration to learn together and reshape the humanitarian agenda by embedding women’s rights and leadership in humanitarian coordination efforts across the cluster system.

Now more than ever, states and development partners must work with women human rights defenders and activists and communities at the front lines of this pandemic to adopt practices and maximise resources to end all forms of violence against women and girls. There must be support built for those women who have lost their employment, for those that are sick and indeed for urgent care. Full range of quality health services including sexual and reproductive health services must be provided to all those who need it without fear, stigma and discrimination.

The Coalition partners urgently mobilised to redirect work towards addressing the pandemic crisis and coordinated support for continuous and innovate new work and the new norm of working remotely. The Pacific Feminist Charter Action Plan highlights the need to amplify the call for an increase in dedicated, flexible funding to sustain the transformative work of diverse Pacific women. The Coalition recognises funding partners who have stepped up to support this work, particularly for Pacific partners such as the Fiji Women’s Fund and the Urgent Action Fund for Asia and the Pacific.

The Coalition took measures to ensure partners’ safety and address needs for the emerging new work to respond to the developing situation and disruptions to ongoing work.

We Rise wants to extend the depth, reach and impact of the movement support available to all women and gender non-conforming people across the Pacific. Our ultimate goal is to see women’s voice and agency of diverse Pacific women contributing to transformative change through a vibrant and resilient feminist movement.

Insolidarity,
femLINKpacific, the Fiji Women's Rights Movement and the International Women's Development Agency
(We Rise Coalition)

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[1] From here on when we mention ‘women and girls’ we refer to specific identities and needs of lesbians, bisexual, trans people, intersex people, fa’afafine, leiti, and other non-heteronormative Pacific identities, Francophone women, diaspora women, indigenous women, women living in occupied and colonised territories, migrant women and girls, women with disabilities, and women with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, sex workers, living with HIV aids, women living in rural and remote places, young women, the girl child, single mothers, women with albinism, older women, heterosexual women, women in sports, and creative industries. (Pacific Feminist Charter for Change, 2016)

[2] 2nd Pacific Feminist Forum, 2019. Pacific Feminist Charter Action Plan. [online] Fwrm.org.fj. Available at: <http://www.fwrm.org.fj/images/PFF/WEBSITE/PFF_Charter_Action_Plan.pdf>

[3] Pacific Feminist Forum, 2016. Pacific Feminist Charter For Change. [online] fwrm.org. Available at: <http://www.fwrm.org.fj/images/PFF/PFF-Charter-Final-2Dec2016.pdf>

 https://mailchi.mp/671514a23d0f/we-rise-coalition-expressing-solidarity-across-the-pacific-in-covid19