‘Each for Equal’ – Theme for IWD 2020
“Picnic at the museum” for International Women’s Day
“Can my husband and son attend?” “Oh it’s a ‘women’s only’ event?” “Why can’t we have an International Men’s Day?” “It’s a “gender thing” right?”
These are some of the questions raised time and time again on every International Women’s Day. But stepping back, another, more important question could be “Why are people still asking these questions?” The first International Women’s Day (IWD) was in 1911, well over a century ago, - so why are people still unclear about IWD?
The Pacific Community (SPC) in Suva reflected about this conundrum in terms of ‘who are we not reaching’; and asked ourselves ‘what are they not hearing?. SPC and its partners saw IWD 2020 as an opportunity to organise an event involving a wide range of people, with a wide range of opinions. It was important that the event be flexible, so people would join us in the celebration of the day, and we also wanted to hold the sort engagement that would attract people who would normally not attend a ‘formal’ IWD event. So what about a Picnic?
A ‘picnic at the museum’ was organized which attracted over 100 people. Shortly after the completion of the ‘Vital Voices Global Mentoring Walk’ (Graduate Women Fiji), we gathered at the museum grounds and opened our baskets.
The event featured a ‘Gunu Tea and Talanoa’ session with Dr Claire Slatter (feminist academic) co-leading the discussion with Matelita Buadromo (Athlete- Fiji rep).
Picnickers heard from the Striders Women’s Rugby Club representatives, reflecting on progress and challenges made towards gender equality and women’s human rights. iTaukei Affairs introduced a Fijian traditional ancient game played only by Indigenous Fijian women called ‘caqe moli’, cancer screening and health checks (Reproductive and Family Health Association), yoga (Francesca Pradelli- GEM) and a children’s corner (Save the Children) were all part of the event and the Fiji museum exhibition space was used to display ‘Inspiring Pacific Women’ photos from SPC’s 70 Inspiring Pacific Women Campaign.
The day was an opportunity for women, men and children to network informally in the relaxing veranda at the museum, outside of work; as well as engaging in discussions relating to gender inequality, roles of women in decision making and leadership and how men can be more supportive and what that would look like – to answer some of those ‘questions always raised’.
IWD is a global event, celebrated on the 8th March every year. While this day has been dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women, it is also a day to acknowledge how far we have progressed in terms of gender equality- specifically in accessing quality education and healthcare. But acknowledgment is not just about how far we have come, it is also about how far we are still yet to go on issues like equal pay for equal work, equal representation in senior leadership and decision making roles, recognition of women’s unpaid work and the right to live a life free from violence and abuse.
As an inter-governmental organisation, SPC recognises the important role that the organisation has beyond providing technical assistance and capacity support to our member nations, to magnify outreach and influence through networks and solid partnerships for people centred sustainable development. We need keep building on our strengths and unique positioning to progress inclusive gender equality in the region so that no one is left behind.
We must remind ourselves that those who came before us did not win every fight for gender equality, but they did have a vision for an equal world, and this is the vision that we all should share and work towards.
We must not forget that we have a long history and experience to draw upon. As a regional organisation our work is grounded in Pacific priorities, realities and histories/herstories. We must cultivate this, build on our partnerships to create a world that is equal and safe for all. Collaboration and partnership between a range of stakeholders is crucial for realising the sustainable development goals and PPA and BPA+25.
For IWD to truly work and affect the positive change we wish to see- it must be intersectional, inclusive and meaningful. We no longer can afford to organise isolated activities and events disconnected from the very people we are trying to reach and influence.
This event would not have been successful without the help of key partners and sponsors. We would like to thank Graduate Women (Fiji), The Fiji Museum, The Reproductive and Family Health Association, Striders Women’s Rugby Club, Save the Children Fiji, The Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, Dr. Claire Slatter, Matelita Buadromo, Land Resources Division (SPC), Strategic Planning and Learning (SPC), PEUMP Programme (SPC) and the GeoScience, Energy and Maritime Division (SPC) for their support and partnership.
We are also thankful to our sponsor Goodman Fielder Fiji for their contribution towards light picnic refreshments.