For the first time, rural youths in the district of Solaira Tikina, in Naitasiri Province, will have an opportunity to engage in the subject of child protection, gender rights and empowerment through a workshop run by the Fijian NGO, Medical Services Pacific.
Held on 8th and 9th of April at Waikalou Village, the All Women and Youth Empowered Now: Empowering Youth in Child Protection in Rural Areas workshop will engage 30 youth in discussions around gender inequality, child protection, health, risky behaviours, sexuality and teenage pregnancy. The workshop is funded by the British High Commission.
Honourable guests at the workshop will include the Roko Tui Naitasiri, Ratu Joeli Mavanikoso, and the British High Commissioner, Suva, Mr Roderick Drummond.
The event will provide young people with an invaluable opportunity to meet experts working in the areas of child protection and violence against women and girls, and raise awareness of the clinical and support services available.
Emphasising the importance of early health-seeking behaviours and the right to basic healthcare for all, MSP will set up a confidential clinic at the village on the second day of the workshop, to run from 10 am until 12 pm, to provide the community with access to free healthcare services.
To achieve behaviour change around gender equality and child protection, it is vitally important to work with youth to encourage critical thinking and positive behaviours around reproductive health and rights, so that by the time these youth reach adulthood and take up leadership roles, they have the knowledge and the values to make a difference.
Jennifer Poole, Executive Director of MSP, says: “With young people comprising nearly half of Fiji’s population, providing information and awareness to youths in rural areas, such as the highly populated Naitasiri Province, has never been more essential. When we talk with youths about issues such as child protection and women’s empowerment, we reach them at an age where their ideologies are still being influenced. This means that the way we speak with them now about these topics will directly influence the decisions they make as adults, and the way they will influence others. It is through our work with youth that we can have the most impact towards ending violence against women and children.”
“We are very fortunate that our donor, The British High Commission, recognises the need for engaging youth on these topics, and is working with MSP to provide the essential support that allows us to reach out to these youth and empower them to make a difference.”
The workshop is the first of four workshops to be run by MSP in the Naitasiri Province.