FIJI WOMEN WANT ‘CLARITY’ ON CONSTITUTIONAL CONSULTATIONS

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Grassroots women must be able to participate: femLINK

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 5, 2011) – The Fiji women’s organization femLINK Pacific is calling for the interim government to be clear about the process for drawing up a new constitution.

The interim prime minster Commodore Frank Bainimarama announced on January the 1st that the public emergency regulations in place for almost three years will be lifted on Saturday and a nationwide consultation process for a new constitution begun in February.

[PIR editor’s note: According to their official site, femLINKpacific focuses on "community media objectives," with "women speaking to women for peace." The primary goal of the organization is to develop and implement wide-reaching media initiatives for Pacific women to offer safe spaces to articulate and exchange viewpoints.]

FemLink Pacific’s executive director, Sharon Bhagwan Rolls says the lifting of the regulations won’t make much difference to her organization and others like it if requirements such as obtaining permits for public gatherings remain.

But she says it’s crucial that women be able to participate in the consultation process.

"Our concern is that you can have a process at the national level but unless communities at the grassroots level, and we’re talking about rural women who live 20-30 kilometers away from a main centre, their local town. How do they get involved?"

Sharon Bhagwan Rolls says she hopes the interim government will take into account that it’s not just about inviting people and presenting them with a draft document.

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