Caption: Shamima Ali: File photo.
The 30th edition of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre’s flagship Regional Training Programme (RTP) came to an end in Suva on Thursday, 24 October, sending out 42 participants who successfully completed the intensive month-long training.
Participants came from Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, PNG, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu. They work in the area of violence against women in the police force, judicial department, NGOs, church, traditional and youth groups and crisis and counselling centres.
The training focussed on gender, violence against women and human rights. Participants also received training in the use of media for advocacy work, international legal instruments and counselling skills.
Since the first RTP in 1995, 712 people have graduated from the programme, which has developed into an integral activity of the FWCC and the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women, which the FWCC coordinates.
The chief guest at the graduation was Elizabeth Cox, former director of UN Women Pacific and longtime advocate of PNG and Pacific women’s human rights. Ms Cox was the woman who suggested the concept of the RTP to Shamima Ali, the coordinator of the FWCC in the 1990s.
Ms Cox said it was heartening to see the programme complete 30 training sessions over the past 18 years. Cox said the programme was the only one globally that involved women leading a multifaceted approach to sensitising and raising awareness of the issues surrounding violence against women.
“In the region, we don’t need to look further than the RTP to find human rights training of world standard,” Ms Cox said during her closing speech.
Ms Ali, FWCC’s Coordinator, said the training was so unique that in the beginning they found it difficult to find donors to support participants to take part in the training.
Now, however, they struggle to accommodate all the potential participants, and sometimes have to turn applications to attend down.
“We now have more than 700 people who have been trained at the RTP working in various areas around the Pacific,” said Ms Ali.
Paul Doguape, a policeman from Nauru, told the closing ceremony the training has “changed my life” and that he would return to his home and job a different man, having now understood the issue of violence against women from a woman’s perspective.
The RTP is conducted twice a year and is possible with support from AusAID.