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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

Civil and Political Rights/ Women's Human Rights & the Law

FWRM recognises the interlinked discrimination women face that hinders their full participation in civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Since its beginnings, FWRM has been at the forefront of the civil and political rights movement in Fiji to promote and protect women’s human rights through strategic partnerships, advocacy, solidarity actions and research. FWRM recently passed the position of Chair and Secretariat of the NGO Coalition on Human Rights, dedicated to improving and promoting human rights, the rule of law, accountability and democracy in Fiji.

NGO Coalition on Human Rights

FWRM was the Chair and Secretariat of the NGO Coalition on Human Rights from 2015 - 2023. Throughout this period, we have continued the advocacy abnd campaign with other members of the Coalition on issues such as the protection of Fijian people's human rights, militarisation, military and police intimidation and torture of members of the public, violence against women and girls, the intimidation of civil society for their support for West Papua and other national human rights issues.

The group also organises the Human Rights Day marches and events held on Human Rights Day, December 10 every year.

In 2019, due to the measles outbreak, we organised our first ever virtual rally at the FWRM office.

All media statements released under FWRM's tenureship as NGOCHR Secretariat can be found here:  Media Releases

In October of 2023, the Secretariat role was handed over to Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre with Shamima Ali as its Chair, after a unanimous decision by NGOCHR members.

Protecting Women's Human Rights in Law

In September of 2021, the-then government suggested changes to the Electoral Laws in regards to Name Change. 

FWRM was concerned about the suggested amendments to the Electoral Laws in regards to name change and how it will disproportionately affect a vast majority of married women in Fiji, who take their husbands’ names after marriage. The proposed bill was inherently discriminatory towards women, as well as being unconstitutional viz. the Bill of Rights which states that women may not be discriminated against on the basis of their sex and gender. 

The Supervisor of Elections then had earlier issued a statement that all Fijians must confirm their voter registration names with the names on their birth certificates. 

FWRM and FWCC spoke out against the suggested amendments which would disproportionately be discriminatory towards married women compared to men because the majority of women change their surnames during the process of their legal marriage registration, taking on their spouses' surnames. This process, however, does not automatically change the names on their Birth Certificate or their passports. Women are the only ones given the option to change their names during this process, which is in itself a discriminatory exercise.

In December the same year, seven brave women supported by FWRM and FWCC, filed a constitutional redress case challenging the same name change laws that had been passed in Parliament.

 The plaintiffs included, Yashmin Nisha Khan, Adi Asilina Davila Toganivalu, Lavinia Rose Bernadette Rounds Ganilau, Shiromani Priscilla Singh, Elizabeth Catherine Reade Fong, Leba Seni Nabou and Salote Raikolo Qalo represented by former Supervisor of Elections, Jon Apted of Suva law firm, Munro Leys.

The women are all from different ethnic groups and political affiliations, claiming that the name change laws are discriminatory against married women on the grounds of sex, gender and marital status and breach their constitutional rights to equality and to vote. They are claiming that the new laws also violate their constitutional rights to privacy, as well as to their cultural and social identity. As of today, there has been no update on the progress of the case which is still before the High Court.

The Name Change Law has since been repealed by the Sitiven Rabuka led government after public consultations. The women's movement acknowledges the government's decision but continues to wait for a decision by the courts on the constitutional challenge case.