Media Release

16 Aug, 2021

The Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre says no efforts to derail the character and credibility of former Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa can derail the tremendous work she has done for Fiji and the women of our country.

And FWCC Coordinator Shamima Ali has expressed her utter disappointment with the alleged forced resignation of Ms Vuniwaqa for allegedly standing by her principles and the actions of gutter level journalism.

Acknowledging Ms Vuniwaqa’s work, Ms Ali said the Minister was instrumental in pushing forward Fiji’s gender agenda and putting women’s human rights on everyone’s agenda.

“While we are shocked to learn about her exit from government with no real reasons known as to why, the reality of the matter is Ms Vuniwaqa was Fiji’s best Cabinet Minister to work with,” Ms Ali said.

She said the former Minister was instrumental in bringing together Civil Society Organizations and working with them with an open heart.

“Ms Vuniwaqa worked very closely with feminist movements in Fiji like the FWCC and she always demonstrated the highest levels of integrity, credibility and had the ability to listen and learn, which a very rare commodity in the present leadership.

“Her role as a Cabinet Minister, and her genuine, authentic and consistent act of engagement and collaboration with feminist movements speaks volumes of her leadership.”

Ms Ali said the Ministry for Women and the Department of Social Welfare were in shambles before Ms Vuniwaqa took over.

In partnership with stakeholders and the feminist movement, the Minister was able to:

  • Push for the National Service Delivery Protocol which was launched under her watch;
  • Reinforced the Gender-Based Violence Taskforce and ensured its ongoing longevity;
  • Launch the National Domestic Violence Helpline 1560 and
  • And be the driving force for the National Action Plan for the prevention of violenceagainst women and girls which is in the process of development

Ms Ali said all these were achieved under the Ministers guidance and leadership, and most importantly, because of her willingness to listen and learn from people who have worked for decades promoting women’s human rights.

“She also ensured that Fijian expertise was consulted and utilised first before looking beyond our borders.”

Ms Ali said Ms Vuniwaqa was a breath of fresh air in the stultified confines of the government and is always willing to push the barriers with humility and great negotiating skills.

“She was and is a champion for inclusivity and ensured under her watch that the LGBT community was included in every document.

“We are sad that Ms Vuniwaqa will no longer be at the helm of the ministry, she has stood out as a great leader, and will continue to do so and has a great future ahead of her.

“We wish her the very best and urge her to ignore those misogynists who are trying to bring her down through gutter-level journalism and other insidious means, and carryon regardless.

“She has a lot love and support from many in this country and she is a true daughter of Fiji and we standby her.”

We wish her all the success.

Ends…

Copyright © 2021. Fiji Women's Crisis Centre.