“Over the past three years, I’ve seen an increase in violence against girls and young women across Fiji,” says Ditainivanuavou Bolabasaga, Voices Against Violence Project Coordinator for Fiji Girl Guides Association.
“Girls are more vulnerable to violence. If this issue is not addressed, they will feel unsafe at home and in their community and it could have a detrimental impact on their future. Girls who aren’t able to go to school are also vulnerable to early marriage.”
To support girls and young women in Fiji, Ditainivanuavou has been working with her Girl Guide group to establish the Voices Against Violence curriculum in nine schools across the country. The aim? To ensure girls are supported and able to access local services if they’ve experienced violence.
“Girl Guides across Fiji deserve to know their rights when it comes to violence. Last year, about 200 Girl Guides participated in activities. They were empowered to speak out in the face of violence. Thanks to the training, Girl Guides gained increased knowledge and the confidence to discuss issues around violence that affect them at school, within their home and community.”
Girl Guides from Fiji were educated about gender-based violence through a number of activities. They wrote messages on posters and they took part in marches and creative-based performances, including drama performances, songs and dances.
Voices Against Violence, a curriculum developed by World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and UN Women, has been welcomed across Fiji. It will go a long way when it comes to ensuring survivors of gender-based violence are able to stay safe and access local services, by encouraging communication and increased awareness about the issue.
Ditainivanuavou, who has trained many Girl Guides on the curriculum, has also encouraged her friends to speak out and seek help
“Two of my friends are survivors of gender-based violence. As a result of my role, I have been able to listen and help them by advising them on how to seek help.”
The hard work is set to continue. Another 62 guide leaders from 31 primary schools have been trained, along with 18 Scout leaders, who will work together to ensure the Voices Against Violence Curriculum continues to have an impact.