An ocean of opportunities, change and resilience – our first Strategic Plan

Illustration and report design by Vidushi Yadav

By Menka Goundan and Michelle Reddy

We are thrilled and ecstatic to present our first-ever strategic plan.

The Strategic Plan is a culmination of six months of teamwork through several rounds of consultations with the feminist movement, research, desk review and a multi-day strategic planning workshop with our team.

The Strategic Plan breathes life to our vision and takes shape in the form of our vision statement, mission, strategic focus areas and a new theory of change. The Plan guides our work over the next three years under our new status as an independent locally-led women’s fund.

The Fund’s vision is to have a feminist future for diverse women, girls, and gender non-confirming people in Fiji. Our mission is to create an empathetic and adaptive feminist fund that influences and mobilises resources for the feminist and women’s rights movements, networks, and organisations but also further supports and collaborates with our grantee partners to progress and positively contribute to the rights of women, girls and gender non-conforming people in society.

During our strategic planning process and in developing our vision and mission, we set for ourselves a problem statement that we wanted to address and then envisioned what the world could look like. Within the period 2022-2024, the problem we hope to address is the unequal flow of financial and non-financial resources from donors, funders, power holders and decision-makers to feminist and women’s organisations and movements in Fiji.

We believe this problem stems from a complex web of root causes and have prioritised three to focus on over the next three years:

1. Lack of representative voices and narratives of diverse women, girls and gender non-conforming people in decision-making spaces about funding and resource allocation: Decisions on funding and resource allocation are often made based on the limited knowledge and preferences of funders, investors, power holders and resource owners.  Opportunities for diverse women, girls and gender non-conforming people’s narratives and voices to be heard are still limited and they continue to be challenged by the lack of transparency on what and how much donors fund, and how funding decisions are made.

2. Patriarchy’s heavy influence on decisions about funding and resource allocation to address gender injustice: Patriarchal values and traditional gender norms continue to shape current political will, the unequal allocation of resources to address gender inequality, and the structural and systemic violence against women, girls and gender non-conforming people. Patriarchy has multi-dimensional impacts, including discriminatory patriarchal traditions; stereotyping of women and their caregiving burden at home; segregation of roles and responsibilities in different spheres of their lives; and the high levels of violence against women. In Fiji as in other settings, being LGBTI often carries with it a stigma underpinned by a belief that one is bad, incomplete, sick, immature, unskilled, sinful, or generally undesirable. But this also changed with some hard work by many, over time[1].

3. Funders’ perceptions and mandates about gender equality and women’s empowerment: Whilst large bilateral and multilateral agencies publicly commit to addressing gender equality as a priority, the actual dollar value and how they disburse funding to feminist and women’s rights organisations and movements in Fiji and the Pacific is minimal[2]. This results in less resources reaching local grassroots organisations and movements that are essential partners within the feminist ecosystem[3].

We know that our problem statement is ambitious but almost five years ago, we also dreamed of setting up the first women’s fund in the Pacific and that dream has become a reality.

We will achieve our mission and vision by:

  • Directly funding and building the capacity of feminist and women’s rights organisations and movements in Fiji to deliver gender justice outcomes and enhance their spheres of influence.
  • Influencing and mobilising financial and non-financial resources from diverse funding sources to support feminist and women’s rights organisations and movements’ work in Fiji.
  • Building our governance and operational capacity to establish ourselves as an empathetic and adaptive fund that is responsive to the of needs Fiji feminist and women’s rights organisations and movements.
  • We recognise the value of connection with the community of people we work and engage with. We will continue to explore strategic partnerships with a diverse range of local organisations including established feminist and women’s organisations and movements.  We will maintain partnerships with our bilateral and multilateral funders, international feminist and women’s rights movements and organisations; sister funds; and other public and private funders such as foundations and philanthropic organisations and individuals.

After much reflection and consultation with our team and the feminist and women’s movement, our focus areas of work are:

Women’s Economic Empowerment. Economically active women suffer from an unequal burden of work because they also have responsibilities for home and family and community. For example, in 2015-16 women working for wages or salaries spent on average 24 hours a week on household work, while men spent 10 hours. Women are likely to continue to work largely in the informal economy, however, they face challenges that prevent them from fully benefiting from the economy, particularly the informal economy – these include the lack of social and legal protections and the absence of voice in decision making around policies and legislation.[4]

Women in Leadership and Decision Making: While women are still under-represented in national parliaments, there is a higher participation of women in senior management in the public sector with the regional average increasing from 11.3 percent in 2012 to 14.8 percent in 2016 – Fiji has 44 percent of women in senior roles.

Women’s Coalitions for Change: Efforts to enhance women’s agency need to work at multiple levels, to help create an enabling environment where a woman’s right to make decisions about her own life is recognised. This can be challenging in Fiji, where social norms and attitudes are based on complex gendered hierarchies that keep women disempowered. Understanding these context specific norms is essential to achieving change.

Eliminating Violence Against Women and Girls: Sixty-four percent of Fijian women between the ages of 18 and 65 have experienced physical or sexual violence during their lifetimes. Rural women (69 percent) are more likely than urban (58 percent) women to experience violence during their lifetime. Rural women also have very limited access to protection and support services due to the remoteness of their dwellings. Difficulty in accessing the formal justice system compels many women to seek support from traditional justice systems, which are more focused on reconciliation than protection.

Climate Justice and Humanitarian Action: Women and girls are 14 times more likely to die or be injured than men due to a disaster. They are subject to a number of secondary impacts, including gender-based violence, loss of economic opportunities, and increased workloads. While climate change and disasters are having a huge impact on human security, health and the environment, it is affecting disproportionally women and girls, and even more so rural and indigenous women.

Influencing Aid and Philanthropy: Feminist and women’s organisations and movements should have the power to define their funding priorities in dialogue and partnership with funders. This is rarely the case, instead, it is dependent on funders’ willingness to be open about how they prioritise and allocate resources which often results in competition for the same resources.

With the Strategic Plan as our compass, the mana of our new Board of Trustees and Governance Board to steer our canoe, we know that while we may be charting new waters, we are not alone because we have a great sisterhood of women’s funds and allies supporting us.

You can read a copy of our Strategic Plan HERE; we would love to hear your thoughts on our new direction.

[1] Unjust, Unequal, Unstoppable: Fiji LBT women and gender non-conforming people tipping the scales towards justice. 2019. DIVA for Equality. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1D2YiPOQb_erOxBK2rdRt45Z8mEB1no0z/view?fbclid=IwAR2hokzoCRmYy6xJwH4xvp7b6boNKlMbIeNy82UFWDwap86hOtJjY7RC0Ms

[2] Where is the money for women and girls in the Pacific, Fiji Women’s Fund and Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, Asia and Pacific. https://fijiwomensfund.org/where_is_the_money/

[3] Towards a Feminist Ecosystem (2019), The Association for Women’s Rights in Development. https://www.awid.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/awid_funding_ecosystem_2019_final_eng.pdf

[4] Economic Empowerment (2020), Pacific Women. https://pacificwomen.org/our-work/focus-areas/economic-empowerment/

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