Reaching where we are today, has a history spanning 22 long arduous years for many of us present here. Some of you have congratulated me personally. I take that as a great compliment but there were and are many people who have contributed to where we are today – women who have come from far and near to be with us today.
- Carole Carter is here from Australia. She developed the training for all center members and which still forms the basic of all training which we conduct today
- Ema Tanuku and Veniana Tuidomo who worked as volunteers during the hard times of the eighties
- Elizabeth Gounder and Shereen who are here from New Zealand and Canada
- Acknowledge our regional partners from Vanuatu, PNG, Tonga, Cook Is, Solomons
I welcome you and thank you for making this trip.
I acknowledge also the presence of Dr Juliet Hunt and Elizabeth Cox, the two whose strategizing and encouragement since I met them in the late eighties have been invaluable to the development of the Centre.
Though most of them are not here today, I acknowledge the men and women of AusAid from the late eighties to date who became advocates indirectly of our work and made many things possible in terms of funding and the building. I remember Anne Johnson who had just left AusAid advising Elizabeth Cox and I when we were looking for advise on whether a building was possible, “to go the whole hog”.
From her FWCC learnt to ask for everything and never to short change ourselves. At that time everyone – the NGO as well as the donor community told us that no one would fund a building. So you can imagine how Sabet Cox and I felt, when armed with the proposal developed by Juliet, her and I in three countries – Fiji, PNG and Australia – were told at AusAid in Canberra within 10 minutes of arriving there, it was accepted.
Thus we bought this property in 1993. We renovated it and worked from the small wooden building till another round of lobby, strategizing and support from again, individuals in AusAid, here I’d like to mention Sue McDonald, Stacey Tennant, Juliet Hunt and Edwina Kotoisuva who worked tirelessly to ensure that this building across the road was possible.
This I can assure you was not even in our wildest dreams when the Centre first started. Of course this building is also the result of the work of the staff of the Centre despite all odds making inroads into Fiji society, getting VAW on everyone’s agenda. And that is what we are celebrating today – this building is recognition that VAW is a gross violation of human rights and also affects development and must be ended.
The building has been designed by Architects Pacific and built according to our requirements. There is a training room, the second floor is totally devoted to counseling and the top floor is our Research and Resource Centre and Administration. It will accommodate 20 staff.. It also serves the Pacific region – PWNAVAW.
This building has elicited great admiration from the public (incredibility) and I am sure it has further uplifted our profile.
On this journey we have been supported by many people AusAid, NZAid, Asia F, the various UN agencies and local supporters and I acknowledge this sincerely. Many thanks to the Australian government for recognizing the work of the FWCC and making this possible, for letting us negotiate and determine the path we wished to take and of course keeping to the funding criteria. We have been told that we are a very accountable and transparent entity.
My hope is that you will all continue to support the rights of the women of this country. The FWCC will continue to work itself out of business. We hope that you will help us do this