Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre
Positive and life-giving aspects of culture and traditional practices should be revived rather than those that oppress and commit crimes on any section of society.
This was one of the many messages relayed to women of the Federated States of Micronesia today by Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre coordinator and long-time human rights activist Shamima Ali while delivering the keynote address at the 3rd FSM Women’s Conference.
More than two hundred women from the different states of Micronesia attended this morning’s opening ceremony of the week-long conference with the theme, “Maintaining our culture to inspire change.”
“This is the first time we have been invited up north so while I am very grateful to the Pohnpei Women Council for the invitation to come and deliver the keynote address, I also see this as a great opportunity to build our relationship for the solidarity of women in the Pacific,” said Ms Ali.
She told those present that violence against women is a human rights issue and that the best way to deal with it was under a democratic environment.
“So it’s very important that you women stand up and lobby for democracy and the rule of law. I know that FSM was and in some places, still is a matrilineal society but through the advent of Christianity and colonisation, women have come to lose that power.
“Sometimes culture is used as an excuse not to address violence against women and girls in our homes and in our community. We need to revisit pre-colonial history where I believe there was much more equality and respect for women but unfortunately also, there’s very little written about this,” she added.
Ms Ali also highlighted the work that’s being done in the region by various members of the Pacific Women’s Network against Violence against Women and Girls of which the FWCC is the chair.
“Some examples are the one stop shop in Tonga and the Male Advocacy program in Fiji. What we are doing is we are not only making it easier for survivors of violence to come forward and get the services they need, we’re also training men from around the Pacific to learn and start speaking the language of women’s rights. Not only that, there are other various programs in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and PNG,” she said.
The conference continues until Friday.
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