RUGBY is now the buzzword and it is amazing that even those who know absolutely nothing about rugby have now become gurus in the sport and what I cannot fathom is how we become rugby fanatics and experts in one series and in the next we become rugby critiques and throw in our coaching towel (which was not ours to start with).
In a rugby crazed nation like ours, even the mothers, sisters and daughters love the sport and it does not help that the sport has opened up to women so women are experts in rugby which originally was a man's domain.
There is something else that is becoming the buzzword in both the professional and social conversations too, and that is the constitutional consultation.
How effective will it be, how transparent will the process be, will it truly reflect the voices and aspirations of the people, will the process capture all our views, what is the premise from which we are to base our consultations on, who do we listen to, whose views should I promote.
These are the many questions that many will silently have but I have always believed that knowledge is power and the best way to make sound and healthy decisions and contributions is to be well informed.
When you have information, it becomes easy to decide what is best for us and what is not.
We have had constitutions in the past which were open to a few and currently the idea is that all Fiji citizens will have a voice in the drafting of this new one.
For the ordinary Mary and Jane, how do we know what to discuss during the consultations and what do we base our hopes and aspirations on.
This week's column carries the Compact of the 1997 constitution.
The Compact is the hopes and aspirations of the people who wrote the constitution.
These are the guiding principles from which the constitution was written,
For us as we prepare for this very important national exercise which is to affect not only our generation but future generations ... do we believe in the guiding principles in the 1997 Compact?
Do we want a Compact? Do we need adopt something similar or do we change sections of it? We, as Fiji citizens, and women have become so knowledgeable about rugby and on the same premise of being knowledgeable shouldn't we be knowledgeable about this section which is basically a guide about the constitution or should we just leave it to the experts?
We all need to have our voice heard so we need to empower ourselves.
Have a read through the Compact and see whether you agree or disagree on it.
Chapter Two Compact (1997 Fiji Constitution)
Section Six: The people of the Fiji Islands recognise that, within the framework of this constitution and the other laws of the State, the conduct of government is based on the following principles:
A. The rights of all individuals, communities and groups are fully respected;
B. The ownership of Fijian land according to Fijian custom, the ownership of freehold land, and the tenants under leases of agricultural land are preserved;
C. All persons have the right to practise their religion freely and to retain their language, culture and traditions;
D. The rights of the Fijian and Rotuman people include their right to governance through their separate administrative systems;
E. As citizens, the members of all communities enjoy equal rights, including the right to make their permanent homes in the Fiji Islands;
F. The rights of a citizen include the right to form and join political parties, to take part in political campaigns, and to vote and to be a candidate in free and fair elections of members of the House of Representatives held by secret ballot and ultimately on the basis of equal suffrage;
G. The formation of the government that has the support of a majority in the House of Representatives depend on the electoral support received by the various political parties or pre election coalitions, and, if it is necessary or desirable to form a coalition government from among competing parties, depends on their willingness to come together to form or support a government;
H. The formation of government, and in that government's conduct of the affairs of the nation through the promotion of legislation or the implementation of administrative policies, full account is taken of the interests of all communities;
I. To the extent that the interests of different communities are seen to conflict, all the interested parties negotiate in good faith in an endeavour to reach agreement;
J. In those negotiations, the paramountcy of Fijian interests as a protective principle continues to apply, so as to ensure that the interests of the Fijian community are not subordinated to the interests of other communities;
K. Affirmative action and social justice programs to secure effective equality of access to opportunities, amenities or services for the Fijian and Rotuman people, as well as for other communities, for women as well as men, and for all disadvantaged citizens or groups, are based on the allocation of resources broadly acceptable to all communities;
L. The equitable sharing of political power among all communities in the Fiji Islands is matched by an equitable sharing of economic and commercial power to ensure that all communities fully benefit from the nation's economic progress.
Application of Compact
Section Seven: The principles referred to in Section Six are non-justiciable, except to the extent that they are made the subject of the provisions of this constitution or of a law made under this constitution.
In the interpretation of this constitution or a law made under this constitution, consideration must be given to those principles, when relevant.
"The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world" is a saying I have heard being thrown around to emphasise the role of women.
Are we truly ruling the world and making the difference in our homes, families, societies, communities and in our nation?
If we are to truly be involved, it is time that we, the women of Fiji start empowering ourselves, and start thinking about what guiding principles we want as a basis for the formulation of our constitution.
We need you to help mobilise our families and rewrite our history as we contribute to the drafting of our new constitution.
* Fay Volatabu is the general secretary for the National Council of Women Fiji. Email: email@example.com