It does not rain but it pours!!
I hate the rain. It means that I can not do my laundry or if I have already done so, then chances are the clothes will not be dry when I need them to and there will be no airing of beddings for a kiss from the sun.
The weekends are often dubbed as clean-up time and when it's raining it is quite difficult to do the general cleaning. It is weird though that when you have washing, cleaning and so many chores to do around the house, it rains. Sometimes this is made worse by unexpected visitors or even a power cut or water cut.
Have you had one of those days? Well if you live in Tacirua it is guaranteed that you will have one or all of them happening at the same time so the term it never rains but pours is one that we are familiar with.
This idiom is meant to define that good or bad things happen not only for a few numbers or for a short time but they often happen one after the other or in large quantities.
For us as women this is a saying that we are familiar with because in the last couple of weeks, there have been numerous requests for trainings and workshops to educate our womenfolk and empower them on what their constitutional rights are and how this can be assured to them via their constitutional submissions. In this last week alone women have been conducting training in Waiyevo, Wairiki, Navakacoa, Nabouwalu, Bouma, Qamea, Napuka, Nawaido, Tabwewa, Uma, Tabiang, Buakonikai, Malhaha, Noatau, Pepjei, Fapufa, Motusa, Losa, Tuakoi and Savlei. Women from Lau have also been conducting workshops and members of marginalised communities in Nausori, Nadi and Lautoka have been meeting to discuss what their constitutional rights are and how they can be better reflected in the constitution.
The Constitution Commission closes its submissions next week but I am sure they must be identifying with the saying it never rains but pours just about now. As women all over the country increase the momentum to have submissions written, collected and given to the constitution commissioners, one of the biggest questions on everyone's mind is will my issues or concerns be included in the constitution?
Will my right as an Fijian of Indian descent, an iTaukei, an immigrant, a Muslim, a Christian , a Hindu, a Buddhist, be respected? Will my life as a heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual or asexual person be respected and recognised? Will my right as a person living with HIV or a person living with disability be upheld? Will my right as a woman, a youth, a senior citizen be recognised? Will my kind, my creed , my status be recognised in the new constitution?
Your rights and mine may or may not gel but am I a better person if mine is recognised and yours is not? Will I blame the commissioners if my views and my rights are not reflected? Do I go against the constitutional process if my issues are not recorded?
In a television program aired recently by the Australian Broadcast Commission the first female president of Ireland, Mary Robinson, was being interviewed and she mentioned that she was voted by many, because she appeared to be the one that campaigned for their rights. She was a civil and human rights lawyer and campaigned for the liberalisation of laws in Ireland. She however, resigned before the end of her term in 1997 to become the United Nations Human rights Commissioner and as commissioner, she was known for her forthrightness and her uncompromising criticism of human rights violations by some countries. She angered most countries in the world because of this and was said to have even angered the US because of her statements over the detention of certain people in Guantanamo Bay. She did not seek a second term in 2002 because of her principled stance on certain issues.
What Mrs Robinson reflected was that you can air your issues by entering into politics and ensuring that your issues are taken seriously. Women all over Fiji are now writing submissions and they are putting in so many new issues that relate to them. But should it end there?
Women as well as some men have written in submissions agreeing that women should be seriously regarded as partners even in the leadership of this country.
Fiji has had four coups but the question we all ask ourselves is, have women been involved in any of these coups? Have women been leading this nation? Have women been causing all the crime in our nation? Have women been abusing children and committing violent crimes towards men?
We expound our holy books and we have our holy men preaching to us about our roles, our expectations but have women erred in any of these roles and expectations?
Rain as I was told as a child is a blessing from above and is God's sign he is nourishing our sun-drenched land and quenching the thirst of the inhabitants of this parched land. Rain is also seen by elders as a blessing especially when it occurs during a solemn occasion such as a funeral or ceremony. Women have never spoken but now they are beginning to raise their voices, to be heard. It has never rained but is pouring now.
Fiji is pouring now with the voices and the concerns of women. Women do not want to upset the apple cart as some are wrongly interpreting this. Women are just saying that it is enough. We do not want any more violence, we do not want any more coups, we do not want any more abuse, we do not want anymore violation of our rights, we do not want anymore poverty, we do not want any more unemployment, we do not want anymore disillusionment, we do not want anymore racial conflict, we do not want anymore abuse of power, we do not want anymore false promises, we do not want our grandchildren to grow up in a land that is based on the disrespect of laws as our children have.
The heavens are not just raining but pouring out the cries of anguish of the women of Fiji.
Will you listen? Will you include our views? Will our constitution be a fair and fully representative one? Will the events of the last 25 years be stopped once and for all?
This year Fiji turns 42. In human years the forties is a decade of maturity, sensibility and one gets a clear sense of direction. I am quite sure we are on our way there.
As the commissioners round off their work this week, I wish them all the best as they try and put together the pieces of the puzzle that have been missing. And we the women of Fiji eagerly await to see the unveiling of the new masterpiece.
God bless Fiji!
* Fay Volatabu is the general secretary of the National Council of Women. The views expressed are hers and not that of this newspaper.