Making the change to ensuring more gender responsive policies and practices including service delivery means we need to ensure 50% representation of women in decision making positions right from national parliament to sub national governance structures including local advisory councils.
FemLINKPacific rural community media consultations in Tavua, Ba and Nadi this week, with support from the European Union and the International Women’s Development Agency, has used the production of radio programmes for our community radio network to bring together 20 local club leaders representing a collective membership 350 in Ba and 26 leaders from across Nadi collectively representing more than 1000 women to address the 2013 theme for the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
In Ba (31 January), FemLINKPacific heard from women meeting at the Ba Seniors Centre many women are still unwilling to report cases of domestic violence.
From 73 year old widow Utram Wati to 47 year old Sainiana shared how one common experience for so many women is that they have experienced violence bit do not know where and how to access their legal rights. Many admitted that too often they did not report violence because they feared retaliation.
In Nadi (01 February) 48 year old Losana Derenalagi of the Nawaka Womens Club who regularly attends the provincial network meetings of the Ba Province Soqosoqo Vakamarama emphasized the need to address the huge gaps between policy commitments to eliminate violence against women and actual protection, support and services by the state especially at local level.
According to 68 year old Lavenia Misimisi a retired school teacher and member of the Yavusania Womens Group political and personal security for women is closely connected to women’s access to their rights and freedoms including an understanding of state policies and laws.
Women’s groups need to be supported to participate in community police programmes such as “crime watch” groups especially as the community needs to stand up together against violence and also have the confidence to report cases.
20 year old Avikali Buliasewa a member of Badrau Womens Club in Ba said that a very pressing issue in rural Fiji was the lack of information to assist women assert their rights.
According to the National President of the TISI Sangam women’s network, discriminatory practices in the community impact on women’s access to justice including for victim-survivors of violence against women.
She added that there was also a need to to enhance the delivery of women’s health services in rural centres.
The discussions will contribute to FemLINKPacific’s Women, Peace and Human Security Report and will feature on our community radio station broadcasts. FemTALK 89FM broadcasts every weekend in Suva and twice a month in Labasa.