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Young Women From Western Division Focus Of FWRM Leadership Programme


Twenty
young women representatives from Lautoka, Ba and Tavua have
now joined the eighth cohort (8) of the Fiji Women’s Rights
Movement’s Emerging Leaders Forum (ELF)
programme.

FWRM today conducted the orientation
workshop for the ELF 8 group whose members are for the first
time since the inception of the ELF Programme in 2003, all
recruited from the western division with most residing in
rural and informal communities. The ELF 8 programme is
supported by the Australian Government through the Fiji
Women’s Fund.

FWRM
Executive Director Nalini Singh said that FWRM was excited
with the new direction of the programme and shifting the
focus this year to young women from informal and rural
communities in the west, particularly as they have been the
most heavily impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic.

Ms
Singh said the new strategy also ensures that young women
from the division are able to access feminist leadership
training and FWRM continues to contribute towards developing
and strengthening young women’s leadership and advocacy
skills and their capacity in decision making
spaces.

“On top of other societal prejudices, young
women face multiple discrimination due to their age, gender
and abilities and are often deprived of support to raise
their opinions and adrress issues that affect them. These
challenges are exacerbated further by socio economic factors
such as loss of income and threats to safety and security
post-disasters. FWRM is privileged to be able to provide the
platform that will equip these young women with leadership
skills and help them to critically analyse
socio-political-economic issues through a feminist and
gender approach,” she said.

A Rapid Assessment
conducted by FWRM in 2020 on the Impact of the Pandemic
(COVID-19) on Young Women and Girls
, found that 65
percent of 329 young women respondents studying in
universities highlighted economic challenges, the lack of
access to Internet and laptops, increase in unpaid care work
and difficulties in managing time between household,
academic and professional responsibilities. 71 percent of
the respondents indicated an increase of household
responsibilities compared to the males in their
families.

The ELF 8 programme runs from April to
October, 2021 and consists of 12 modules with a series of
workshops on different thematic areas including women’s
human rights, leadership, violence against women, economic
empowerment, sexual and reproductive health and rights,
climate justice and more.

The workshops will be
facilitated by FWRM staff and other renowned feminist and
human rights defenders in the country.

“I’m excited
and am looking forward to learning more about gender
equality and the issues surrounding human and women’s
rights. I want to learn about my rights as a young woman and
how to use my voice to advocate, especially against the
challenges that women face in the communities including the
increasing prevalence of violence against women and rape,”
said ELF 8 member, Hetali Lata of Tavua.

More than 100
young women have graduated from the programme and now work
across Fiji, the Pacific and globally, some continuing
within the feminist, human rights and civil society
movements.

“The growth of ELF graduates in leadership
positions within their various organisations reflect the
values and the success of the ELF programme and the need for
such leadership training for young women. Many of these
graduates continue to be advocates of gender equality and
diverse women’s rights,” Ms Singh said.

The ELF
programme is designed for young women between the ages of
18-25 years with an intergenerational leadership learning
approach.

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