SUVA, Fiji - Sept. 16-23, 2022 – At Fiji's government's request, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) facilitated Fiji's first-ever Women, Peace and Security (WPS) National Action Plan Orientation Workshop.
WPS is a United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325-based policy framework designed to address the disproportionate impact of conflict on women and girls. The framework affirms that nations should strive toward implementing women's peacebuilding participation in meaningful, equitable ways.
Coordinated by U.S. Army Pacific Command (USARPAC) and directed by Dr. Delaina Sawyers, USINDOPACOM's leading gender advisor, the workshop aimed to help pave the way toward a "whole-of-society" approach to strengthening good governance by applying the guiding principles of UNSCR 1325 and the DoD Strategic Framework & Implementation Plan.
Fiji is a democratic government with multiple agencies working to further incorporate WPS concepts into the day-to-day operations of local government activities, planning and resourcing. Throughout the workshop, small group processes and application of measureable objective design set the conditions for follow-on resourcing and measureable indicators of programming success.
Building on the foundations of UNSCR 1325 and the U.S. Government's WPS Act, the workshop consisted of two phases:
- Phase I – Establishing a charter for a coordinating committee consisting of Fijian government and civil society organizations to guide processes for policy approval and implementation.
- Phase II – Developing a National Action Plan outline by expanding discussions to local civil society organizations to gain insight into the best applications for gender perspectives in Fiji government programs.
Fane Lomani, a coordinator for a feminist media organization, FemLINK Pacific, said she sees the workshop as a great opportunity.
"It's been a long time since we've had this space to participate with government officials," said Lomani. "When it comes to changes in policy, I believe women need to be at the table to have their voices heard. When women are there, women are the agent of change."
Around 40 U.S., international, and local representatives convened to help create Fiji's WPS National Action Plan outline. Speakers representing the group briefed the strategy to senior officials, who presented participants with certificates of accomplishment.
"This is definitely a milestone journey that you all have embarked on," said Permanent Secretary Manasa Esuma for the Fiji Ministry of Defence, National Security & Policing. "Also, a critical stepping-stone towards bringing awareness and recognizing the critical role that women play, not only in the community but in our society as a whole."