Young women today still face multiple issues that affect their autonomy and their ability to engage in decision-making. Despite the challenges, they continue to raise their voices in order to be heard and have their realities and experiences taken into account.
They believe that by opening up decision-making spaces at the local level, in the lead up to the review of the Local Government Act and subsequent elections, they will be more politically active to ensure that when decisions are made and development planned, that everyone is taken into account.
This follows not only their wish to be more engaged and involved in decision making as a whole, but also their disenchantment with the current political space; young women were not on the ballot and therefore had not made it into Parliament.
Young women, in all their diversities, gathered for a two-day capacity building workshop held by the Fiji Young Women’s Forum, demonstrating their keen desire to see themselves and their peers able to access a decision-making space.
Local government would be a space closer to their communities, dealing with issues that young women are more than familiar with, and their participation at local level would be a way to build their own capacity before entering national politics.
While the young women call for consultation to take place around the Act, they also want to see promises kept, such as the promise of gender equality as enshrined in the Constitution.
These young women leaders, including young women of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) and expression, want to see themselves more than able to access the space; they want to be leaders and want the Act and the processes towards local elections to empower them to do so.
Participants also want to see the inclusion of hybrid communities and others that fall out of the municipal boundaries to also be accounted for in the Act, to enable them to access local level decision-making.
All of these recommendations were drawn from the participants of the Fiji Young Women’s Forum Capacity Building Workshop held to educate young women, in all their diversities, about local and national level decision-making structures and systems.
The Fiji Young Women’s Forum is co-convened by the Emerging Leaders Forum Alumni (ELFA), Diverse Voices and Actions for Equality (DIVA), and FemLINKPACIFIC Young Women’s Leadership Team.