22 MARCH 2018

Intergenerational Women’s Movement Celebrated through Artivism 

For 32 years, the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) has lobbied for legal reform, advocated and mobilised women towards realising its vision;  for the women of Fiji to be free from all forms of discrimination, have equal access to opportunities, and to live in a healthy environment where the principles of feminism, democracy, good governance, multiculturalism, and human rights prevail. 

International Women’s Day (IWD) approached in the midst of a public outcry and media storm on the high prevalence of sexual violence against women and girls in Fiji. 

Four months prior to IWD, the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement released the Balancing the Scales: Improving Fijian Women’s Access to Justice research report on November 21, 2017. The research report was funded by the European Union under a project of the same name. It highlighted barriers that prevent women from accessing the formal justice system. The report also sheds light on the alarming statistics of the occurence of violence against women and girls. The report found that 59 percent of the victims/survivors of rape in 2016 were under the age of 18. 

Faced with this sobering reality, FWRM’s GIRLS (Grow Inspire Relate Lead Succeed) programme decided to host an artivism event to raise awareness on their issues in partnership with young women’s network, the Emerging Leaders Forum Alumni (ELFA).   


GIRLS is a flasgship programme under FWRM’s Intergenerational Women in Leadership team, targetted towards girls between the ages of 10 to 12. FWRM began working with girls in 2006 in response to a research, “Violence against the Girl Child in the Pacific Islands Region” by the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre.  The research highlighted the different forms of violence and discrimination girls faced because of their perceived inferior status in Pacific Island society (due to patriarchal cultural norms). The GIRLS 3-year Theatre programme was first launched in 2013 and involved girls in theatre arts and rugby, encouraging them to share their stories in a positive space and challenge gender stereotypes.  

FWRM recognised that their experiences could draw meaningful and significant contributions to dealing with existing social issues and hence since, have involved GIRLS with it’s annual International Women’s Day celebrations. GIRLS became a phenomenon, creating wonderful vibrant young leaders and inspiring the formation of the GIRLS Club. The GIRLS Club was created as another avenue for the GIRLS graduates to continue learning about advocacy, engage with the Movement and help mentor the next cohort of GIRLS Theatre (launched in 2017) 

Emerging Leaders Forum (ELF) and ELFA 

FWRM’s Intergenerational Women in Leadership Programme also runs the Emerging Leaders Forum (ELF) targetted towards young women between the ages of 18-25. The one-year leadership programme for young women uses a human-rights based approach to empower young women and provide skills and knowledge on issues important to them, including on topics like human rights, feminism and climate justice. The graduates of ELF move on to  join the wider alumni group ELFA, a network of over 100 young women advocates that mobilise and raise awareness on issues related to women’s rights and feminism. 

International Women’s Day 

FWRM’s GIRLS, GIRLS Club, GIRLS parents and ELFA, acknowledged the unique experiences and challenges women face at different stages of their life cycles and the power of an intergenerational women’s movement. This year for IWD, FWRM GIRLS in partnership with ELFA hosted a Creative Expressions event at the AusAID Performance Space at the University of the South Pacific (USP) Laucala Campus in Suva on Thursday night March 8, 2018. Over 250 people packed the performance space to hear the different perspectives, stories, experiences and messages portrayed through forms of poetry and monlogues. From girls aged 10 to women over the age of 60, issues of violence, abuse, identity, empowerment and bullying were shared in the space provided. It was a moment of solidarity and empowerment, for GIRLS, young women and older women to speak up on their issues and demand that it was time for a change in attitudes towards women and girls. 

While poetry stanzas of power, emotion and empowerment emnated within the walls of the performance space, there were visual art displays organised outside the room as part of the IWD exhibition. In the build up to the event, the GIRLS and ELFA hosted Creative Workshops for 6 weeks to help empower the participants to share their voices and issues through writing and creative arts. The poetry pieces and artwork that resulted from the 6 weeks of workshops made up the outside art exhibition during the IWD event.  

The event itself was supported by the Australian government through the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA) and the We Rise Coalition. FWRM recognised the power of movements in catalysing change, particularly the women’s movement who have dedicated decades of work to dismantle existing patriarchal and discrimintory barriers that hinder gender equality. FWRM formed key partnerships, including the ground-breaking and inspirational We Rise Coalition. The Coalition is made up of Pacific feminist groups including FWRM, International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA), femLINKPacific and Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for Equality . The Coalition moves to creating visibility for margnalised voices, by providing enabling spaces and mobilising women through their networks. The Coalition’s work in empowering and mobilising women is a key partnership in moving towards FWRM’s vision for Fiji and the Pacific, to realise gender justice, freedom and equality for all.  

This International Women’s Day, FWRM pays tribute to the women’s movement and stands in solidarity with them globally to amplify the call for justice and an end to all forms of discrimination against women and girls. 


On April 10, 1986 a group of 56 Fijian women from various backgrounds took up the challenge of correcting the imbalances in women’s socio-economic and political status – they saw an opportunity to “balance the scales”. They were driven by the values of feminism, human rights, the rule of law, multi-culturalism, and good governance – the same principles that still guide FWRM as an organisation and a movement today. Over a quarter of a century later, the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) can be described as a leading feminist human rights organisation that links local concerns to global debates.