Fiji: Looking North, raising young women's voices

Monday 25 March, 2013
Labasa, Fiji

By Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls

Twenty participants gathered at FemLINKPacific's community media centre in Labasa for our first rural Young Women's Media and Advocacy Skills Training undertaken with support from the International Women's Development Programme (IWDA):

"It was with IWDA's support that we began the Generation Next project in 2005 and today we are so pleased that the training in Labasa is being organised and led by young women who joined our programme in 2010," says FemLINKPacific's Executive Director, Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, " since 2011 our Labasa team of 5 young women producers and broadcasters have been producing a range of radio programmes reflecting women's priorities and managing and hosting "suitcase radio" broadcasts."

The participants have been nominated by women leaders who belong to FemLINKPacific's Rural "1325" network and attend monthly meetings and regular consultations and interactive dialogue programmes, including community radio broadcasts:

"Listening to the group presentation that has been discussed based on the 7 main pillars of human security; young women shared the same issue that face by their mother’s during the consultation," said co-facilitator Alisi Matai who joined FemLINKPacific's programme in Labasa with her mother who is a market vendor.

The training is introducing the young women to creative expression using radio productions, linked to the peace and human security pillars:

"A story that struck me the most was from Ana who shared about the violence that she face in her family and the inequality that she faces with her brothers and sister with this I have learnt a lot more and I also shared the few that I know with the group I was helping," added Lucille Chute who is a key member of FemLINKPacific's broadcast team.

The leadership by FemLINKPacific's team of young women is all part of the organisation's commitment to building a new generation of women leaders and the team includes FemLINKPacific's Programmes Administration Officer, Frances Tawake and Rusila Lautiki who brings her experience of learning and using radio to raise issues fromher village community to the training:

"Today was also a learning process for me as a young producer and broadcaster to speak in front of the youth. It has enabled and encouraged me a lot to share with the youth gathered here about the importance of raising voices and also the work that I do at FemLINK Pacific."

The training mentor is Adi Vasulevu Chute who first joined FemLINKPacific as a volunteer correspondent in 2004.

Every month FemLINKPacific hosts 16 hours of community radio broadcasts in Labasa from the St Thomas Anglican Church. A broadcast survey has found that the 100 watt transmitter of the "suitcase radio" can be heard clearly within the projected 10 kilometre radius including Vatunibale, Wailevu, the All Saints Secondary School and FSC area, Vatunibale, Wailevu Village as well as Lajonia, Tuatua and Naseakula.

Radio programmes produced this week will air on Saturday as well as travel across to Suva for FemTALK 89FM Morning WAVES and weekend broadcasts.

Further information: FemLINKPacific, Fiji
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Advancing gender equality in media

In my opinion, the most effective strategy to achieve gender-sensitive media is:

Increased gender-awareness training of media professionals
Greater action by audiences to hold their media accountable
Stricter enforcement of gender-focussed media codes and policies
More female journalists, editors and media house managers

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