New leaders

Oxfam is currently working with the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement on the Young Women in Leadership programme.

This project focuses on young women between the ages of 14 and 25, and aims to train each of them to be able to inform and influence their peers on issues such as reproductive rights and building self-confidence, as well as how to deal with discrimination.

The group helps encourage other young women to speak out. The aim is to build confidence and self-belief among women so they might have more of a voice and be encouraged to enter into positions of influence and leadership, whether in their schools, communities, churches, youth groups and political groups.

For many young women it has been a life changing experience. Here’s what Karisha Kaajal Kumar, 19, had to say...

Karisha takes part in the Emerging Leaders’
Forum, which aims tp help young women
realise their potential.

Karisha Kaajal Kumar

“The Emerging Leaders’ Forum (ELF) has showed me how one situation can be viewed from different perspectives. This has enriched my discussions and debates with my friends because I no longer take their criticisms of my arguments negatively.

I have taken a position in an advertising agency for a magazine called ‘Prime Glamour’, where my job involves meeting people to sell advertisements. Sometimes men bother me but because of ELF I know my rights as a worker and I’ve stood up for myself, putting a stop to their harassment.

As for my father - he is old-fashioned in terms of what he thinks women should do. From ELF I have the courage to talk to him about his rules and attitudes.

Due to our talks and debates, he has changed his over-protective manner and trusts me more than before. Having been brought up in a very different environment, my father never thought of looking at things from a woman’s perspective as I have encouraged him to do.

I’m a member of the Gospel Church and I’m part of an inter-denominational group called ‘Youth for Christ’ that runs educational programmes. I have been involved with an annual youth camp called 'Camp Safari'. This Camp brings together around 300 teenagers of all religions to learn about issues on relationships, drugs, reproductive health, HIV and AIDS and jobs. Since being part of ELF I have tried to include women’s issues and talk about women’s place as not necessarily being in the home

I have gained the courage to speak up on issues that affect me and I have the knowledge to back up my arguments and stand up for myself while coming to value different perspectives.

I have become an advocate of women’s rights while striving to reach my full potential. I think by being able to recognise differences of opinion as valuable, it will help me become a better advocate and business person.

ELF is all about making a woman realise her maximum capabilities.”

Our partner in Fiji