Communicating Women’s Peace, Human Security and Development

Good Pract FemLinkFemLINKPacific’s rural women’s media network comprises of a team of dedicated community media and correspondents who are equipped with media equipment and resources to convene rural network activities including consultations and radio programme productions to enable rural women to raise their critical issues of concern, which are linked together in a human security framework as part of a variety of media and policy advocacy initiatives.

COUNTRY:

Fiji Islands

ORGANIZATION:

Thanks to FemLINKPACIFIC, women have increased knowledge and are now openly sharing their peace, human security and development priorities and are actively involved in the media and policy activities addressing the need for and how to prevent and address inequalities.

THEME:

Gender

OVERVIEW OF ACTIVITIES:

FemLINKPACIFIC continues to provide a safe space for the rural UNSCR1325 network to gather on a monthly basis. Every month the 1325 network meetings are staged in Nausori, Nadi, Ba, Rakiraki/Tavua and Labasa. The main target group of the meetings are rural women leaders representing at least a total of 30-100 women who belong to their individual networks. During these monthly meetings at least 25% are young women while about 1% belong to the marginalised/disabled groups and networks.

These meetings try and ensure that at least balanced representations of the different ethnic groups are present and included in the meetings. It is during these meeting when the women discuss key priority issues, themes and recommendations. These meetings also is the basis of the policy work carried out by FemLINKPACIFIC. In 2014 with elections approaching each local network contributes to the development of local action plans which provided a targeted and focused approach for communicating to local government networks as well as national government officials. This is complimented by the collection of the monthly Women’s Household, Income and Expenditure data.

During the monthly network meetings at least 2 to 5 women leaders contribute to the monthly production of the radio programme. This is then aired on the community radio that goes on live from the Community media Centre in Suva and Labasa and forms the basis of our media initiatives. In each of the centres and during the monthly network consultations/meetings, the Rural Correspondents or the rural convenors assist in the production and transcription of the monthly programme.

METHODOLOGY

FemLINKPACIFIC uses a combined approach of action learning, public outreach, network strengthening and policy advocacy strategies on gender and communication issues, including advocacy at national, regional and global levels. We organise consultations and training for women leaders, community media volunteers and personnel and CSOS, in order to enhance communication activism in our region. We publish a range of resource materials, supporting women’s networking, media monitoring and research.

FemLINKPACIFIC works with a range of networks of individuals and organisations concerned with gender and communication issues and peacebuilding including the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), the World Association of Christian Communications (WACC) and the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) as well as the Post 2015 Women’s Coalition and the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders. Our regional partner organisations include Vois Blong Mere Solomons, Winds of Change – Initiatives of Change (Solomon Islands), Peace Foundation Melanesia, Leitana Nehan Women’s Development Agency (Papua New Guinea), Ma’afafine moe Famili and the Talitha Project (Tonga). We also work in collaboration with the Pacific Conference of Churches, the Pacific Small Arms Action Group (PSAAG) and the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons.

In Fiji we work through our rural women’s community media network with convenors and correspondents linking leaders from a range of clubs through community radio programme productions and hosting monthly network meetings. We are a co-convenor of the Fiji Women’s Forum and a member of the NGO Coalition on Human Rights and the Rethinking Democracy Network.

Since May 5, 2004 FemTALK 89FM has provided a unique learning environment for young and older women, in Suva and rural communities. From 2007 – 2011 The Generation Next Project helped young women gain employment skills, such as media and digital literacy, as well as social skills such as community outreach.

Community radio provides women with the freedom, safe space and independence to produce programmes as a way of representing their voice; Women are recognized as advocates in their community. When we take out our "suitcase radio" women join us from beyond the 10km transmission radius claiming their space on the airwaves to participate actively, to be informed and to speak out!
As the development of our society depends on the information FemTALK 89FM rural broadcasts involve sharing and receiving information, listening and talking to the diverse groups of women

FemTALK 89FM continues to bridge the information gap between rural women, on disability and SOGI rights, for women in the market.

MAJOR OUTCOME:

Community radio works on and off air by just sharing the stories beyond the airwaves - back into the community such as our Community Radio Times and monthly Women: Peace, Human Security and Development Reports which link women together across the 5 communities. The programme has garnered support at the local government level and enjoyed considerable support from local government including town councils of Lami, Nadi, Ba, Nausori and Labasa who have assisted us in staging consultations and broadcasts. This, together with linkages with District and Provincial level administrators is a valuable opportunity to link local development issues raised by women with the key local decision makers and also create a partnership for the development of a rural women’s radio network.

While women remain under represented in district advisory and development planning committees in Fiji, FemLINKPACIFIC was able to use the publication to demonstrate the availability of women leaders for appointment to these committees and positions of local leadership.

As a result of FemLINKPACIFIC continuing to invest in a rural community media network we have been able to provide recommendations for the Fiji Government National Gender Policy based on recommendations from our network’s local action plans and activities while rural convenors are more confident in engaging with local government officials who are also more responsive to invitations from FemLINKPACIFIC. In September 2014, FemLINKPACIFIC presented our report “Communicating CEDAW and Human Security” to the newly elected Minister for Women to made time to meet with the FemLINKPACIFIC network and staff while the Deputy Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office has assisted FemLINKPACIFIC re-engage with Divisional Commissioners Central and Western.

Furthermore as a result of consistent engagement with government officials including through our interactive dialogues and information and communication strategies members of our local network have been able to engage directly with government officials at local level.

In addition to being invited to the National Green Growth Summit and provide publications for display, our annual gender budget advocacy brief was published by a national newspaper, and FemLINKPACIFIC was also invited to attend the first national budget summit organised post elections.

E.g. The Divisional Commissioner Central nominated the assistant District Officers Tailevu and Rewa (both women) to participate in an interactive dialogue with the Nausori network on November 24 while the Nadi network hosted campaign events in conjunction with the Nadi Town Council and the participation of the District Officer Nadi and the Tavua network hosted its 16 days campaign event with the District Officer Tavua and other government officials.

As a result of convening an inclusive community media network more young women and representatives of LGBTIQ communities are participating in our rural network activities and media initiatives.

Additionally with the consistent production of media and policy initiatives which are distributed as hard copies and available online more rural women, government officials as well as the media are recognizing and affirming FemLINKPACIFIC as a source of information on gender equality and the status of women.

As a result of our ongoing campaigns with rural women, including the Women’s Weather Watch campaign, members of our network were invited to participate and present their experiences on issues relating to the status of rural women. For example, FemLINKPACIFIC’s rural convenor for Labasa, was selected to represent the organisation at an International Conference on the Gender Dimensions of Weather and Climate Services that was held in Geneva WMO centre from 4th to 7th November 2014. This enabled our recommendations from this campaign to be highlighted in this international fora.

CONTACTS:

Sharon Bhagwan Rolls
Executive Director – FemLINKPACIFIC
E: sharon@femlinkpacific.org.fj