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Politics focus

Vishaal Kumar
Saturday, December 02, 2017

THE Fiji Young Women's Forum (FYWF) held a three-day "Young Women in Politics Training" at The Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour earlier this week.

The training brought together 23 young women from the Central, Western and Northern divisions to be part of 11 interactive sessions on political participation and good governance.

According to FYWF, an information kit for the training was developed by the Fiji Women's Rights Movement (FWRM) with input from the co-conveners.

"The purpose of the workshop was to provide capacity building to Fijian young women and empower them to get involved in politics and decision making," FYWF said.

"The training also raises awareness on the importance of young women's political participation. Particularly with the upcoming 2018 election and recognising that women are still underrepresented at all levels of decision making in Fiji, the training helps equip young women who hope to be candidates, voters or community leaders."

As part of the information sessions, speakers from the Fiji Parliament civic education team presented on the three branches of government — the executive, legislature and judiciary systems.

Representatives from the Fijian Elections Office (FEO), including the Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem and FEO voter awareness co-ordinator Edwin Nand, also spoke at the training and presented on their role in elections.

Women who contested in the 2014 election, such as Roshika Deo and Lynda Tabuya, also shared their experiences with the young women.

The forum said young women's political participation and the barriers that existed was a barrier for them to being part of leadership spaces.

"It's crucial that young women are part of decision making spaces and are empowered to participate in the election, as a voter, candidate or in any other similar capacity," the forum said.

"The decisions that are being made, affect the young women and as they know their own experiences and issues, they should be part of the decisions on addressing these issues.

"However, young women face multiple forms of discrimination against their gender and age, on top of other biases like racism. There are cultural and societal barriers that assign young women gender roles as only mothers, sisters and daughters, without acknowledging their capacity to be leaders and decision makers."

The training also provided a space for young women to pre-strategise for the upcoming 2018 election, on how they wanted to participate and how to promote and encourage young women leadership at the national level.

The Fiji Young Women's Forum is co-convened by femLINKPacific, Emerging Leaders Forum Alumni (ELFA) and Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for Equality. The event was funded by the European Union.

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