DIVA for Equality, Feminist collective, Fiji
“Pacific society will not change until there is a large grassroots movement pushing power structures to change. This is what we are strongly and consistently building and supporting through our collective, then hubs in urban poor, rural and remote communities, and with wider civil society groups.”
Founded in 2011 in Fiji, DIVA for Equality is a radical feminist collective, rare around the world but especially in the Pacific. It is currently the only one of its kind in the region formally constituted by lesbians, gender non-conforming women and trans masculine people. DIVA stands for Diverse Voices for Action.
“To have a grassroots national collective of Pacific lesbian, bisexual and gender non-conforming women and trans-masculine activists in the Pacific region is already an achievement in an island context that is often still so violent, homophobic and transphobic,” says the collective’s political advisor Noelene Nabulivou, adding: “Its very difficult to do this work in the Pacific region as we have seven states and territories that still criminalise people with diverse sexuality and we all live in societies that are still deeply discriminatory against those with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sexual characteristics.”
The collective currently has nine members in its core management team and eight grassroots hubs of up to 50 women in each led by focal points. “The hubs are building their own solutions to the human rights and social justice problems they face,” says Nabulivou.
Among the collective’s many achievements, it put a submission into the 2013 Fiji Constitution process, as did four other groups, and consequently managed to have sexual orientation, gender identity and expression included in the Bill of Rights in the Fiji 2013 Constitution, one of few in the world with this strength of language.
It is currently conducting the first Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LBTI) human rights and social justice research, developed, carried out, and analysed by LBTI community for LBTI community. This groundbreaking research, the first of its kind in the whole Pacific, is reaching rural, remote and urban poor communities, and building skills and knowledge of the groups carrying out the research.
DIVA for Equality also supports all women and their communities to highlight their role, and continue to build their own responses to environmental and climate problems. Worried that few Pacific grassroots women-led groups were being seen as active leaders in climate change work, DIVA for Equality started the regional coalition 'Pacific partners on gender, climate change and sustainable development' in 2014. Today, there are over 50 groups in 11 Small Island States.
Adds Nabulivou: “Pacific society will not change until there is a large grassroots movement pushing power structures to change. This is what we are strongly and consistently building and supporting through our collective, then hubs in urban poor, rural and remote communities, and with wider civil society groups.”
This initiative is implemented in partnership with: