Women’s human rights in the Pacific and globally are under threat and now more than ever, women human rights defenders and activists need to build solidarity, strengthen resistance and lead the revolution against all forms of discrimination and injustices that hinder progress towards gender equality.
This was the rallying cry of over 150 Pacific women human rights defenders at the opening session of the 2nd Pacific Feminist Forum (PFF), which is underway at the Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour.
The three-day forum was organised by the PFF working group that consists of femLINKPacific, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM), Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for Equality Fiji, Tongan Leitis Association and Rise UP (PNG). The 2nd PFF is supported by the Australian Government through the We Rise Coalition, Fiji Women’s Fund, Mama Cash and the UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office.
“We need to do better to uplift all diversities of women in our beloved Oceania region, I reflect in practice because I believe in solidarity and I believe we are stronger as a movement when we back each other up and when we uplift one another collectively,” said PFF working group member and Tongan Leitis Association Co-founder Joeleen Brown Mataele, who was the keynote speaker at the event.
“Historically and never before we have seen the rise in attacks and murders of women human rights defenders, it is appalling and it is scary! Here in the Pacific we must keep the spotlight on protection of all our defenders,” she added
Chief Guest at the event was Fiji Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa who gave the welcoming address.
“This Forum is truly a celebration, a celebration of the contributions that the women Pacific Islanders make in every aspect of life: in the home, on the job, in the community, as feminists, mothers, sisters, daughters, farmers, market vendors, students, workers, citizens and leaders.”
The PFF included participants from over 14 countries across the region including Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, West Papua, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.
This is the second regional convening of it’s kind following the inaugural PFF in 2016 that produced the Pacific Feminist Charter for Change, which sets out the collective principles that are key to the work of Pacific Feminists.
Within the next 3 days, the PFF participants will be reaffirming their commitment to the principles enshrined in the Charter. The platform provided at the PFF is about recognising their collective struggles, achievements and strategising on challenges