Fiji Women’s Climate Emergency Rally
The Fiji Women’s Climate Emergency Rally was linked to the Global Climate Strike actions and UN Global Climate Summit by the UN Sec General. The rally in Fiji is organised by Women Defend the Commons Network, DIVA for Equality, Fiji Grassroot Feminist Network, PPGCCSD, Urgent Action Hub for Climate justice, Na i Soqosoqo Vakamarama i Taukei, and CCF with FCOSS, FWRM, femLINKPACIFIC, PICAN, Alliance for Future Generations, and many others.
One of the highlights of the rally was having the Minister for Women, Children, and Poverty Alleviation Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa deliver a strong and motivated gender and climate change related opening address followed by delivering speeches and other activities such as Meke and Poems from the women’s group and the youth groups that were invited to participate.
The event was fully recorded for the New York Conference videos and photos (with snippets edited in from the Opening speeches and performances, including the Minister). During the 1.5 hour public rally, the drone was flying overhead taking video and pictures of the chants, singing, and performances. Mainstream media also interviewed members of the public on Facebook live and Fiji Live. Simultaneously continuous Twitter updates using the hashtag #FijiWomenClimateCrisis and #WomenDefendCommons and #GlobalClimateSummit . Participants also displayed various posters with messages for the UN Global Summit and Peoples Climate Summit in New York, and globally online over the following 2 weeks and at #COP25.
Being able to organise logistics for the 13 bus-loads of women across Central/ Eastern and Western divisions filled with women from all walks of life representing the Women Defend Commons Network, was invigorating and useful. Community members from LBT hubs, sex workers network, SOLO Mums network, etc also engaged in organising and mobilising on the ground which resulted in a successful event.
The rally enabled a large group of Fiji women and their wider allies to be publicly visible, organise in a highly patriarchal context and strengthen networks by working in collaboration with many groups including women-led groups in village and informal settlements. It highlighted visibility of the Women Defend Commons network, of the feminist approaches to addressing climate change, to assert the need for all community to be engaged and not just ‘development sector’, and to build better relations with other women, LBTI networks, sex worker networks and other individuals, including feminists and allies in Government who want to be engaged in progressive gender justice and feminist transformation of society and State but are often unsure how to begin to mobilise, and be in solidarity with others who also want change. We think this is important for us to consistently build public spaces for public engagement, mobilisation and pathways to organising in social movements. The rally was a large example of this work.