It is essential to raise the visibility of an important dialogue such as on electoral issues.
The remarks were made by Dr Brian Jones, the British High Commissioner, and Chief-Guest during the Dialogue on Electoral Issues at the Warwick Resort in Sigatoka today.
“As a diplomat, my role is to connect as many Fijian leaders as possible and importantly, enable platforms for women leaders to ensure increasing their political participation in the country,” said the High Commissioner.
The Keynote Speaker at the Dialogue, Mr. Agus Wandi, the Peace and Development Advisor at the United Nations, said we need the active and broader participation of civil society organizations’, youths and political actors in order to create a conducive environment for elections.
“Fiji’s record in terms of women’s political participation is impressive in the region. However, more could be done to improve their status considering that there are ‘very limited’ young women in many Pacific parliaments. Youths are also crucial actors in terms of their aspirations and increasing voter bloc,” said Mr. Wandi.
Mr. Wandi also said that CSOs’ can play an important role in advocating for electoral reforms which is a long-term process.
The Executive Director of Dialogue Fiji, Mr. Nilesh Lal, emphasized that this dialogue has been organized to enable different stakeholders and citizen groups to deliberate on key electoral issues.
Our intent is to achieve some useful, tangible outcomes that will contribute significantly towards strengthening some aspects of political participation and electoral processes in Fiji, according to Mr. Lal.
The dialogue is being convened as part of the “Building Public Confidence in Elections in Fiji through Civil Society Action”, which is being funded by UKAid and is jointly implemented by Dialogue Fiji and International IDEA.
The 3rd installment of the International IDEA panel discussion series centered on effective campaigning and election fundraising.
International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) held its 3rd panel discussion to raise awareness on electoral campaigning on 31 March 2022, at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.
Dialogue Fiji organized an Inter-University Debate on Elections at the Fiji National University’s Nasinu Campus on 26 March 2022. This was the second round of the “University Debate on Elections” series.
The debate series is being organized as part of the "Building Public Confidence in Elections in Fiji through Civil Society Action" project that is funded by UKAID and is being co-implemented with International IDEA.
The debate series is being organised as part of the "Building Public Confidence in Elections in Fiji through Civil Society Action" project that is funded by UKAID and is being co-implemented with International IDEA.
Four teams, two each from the Fiji National University and the University of Fiji, took part in this round of the debate series. The participating teams had students from different disciplines of study at the two universities, including Applied Social Science, Law and Medicine.
There were three contests held on the day. The first debate was on the topic “An electoral gender quota is desirable in Fiji” which was won by UniFiji Team 1 which took a negative stance on the topic. The second contest was on the topic “A single national constituency is good for Fiji” which was won by FNU Team 2 which took a negative stand on the debate resolution. This set the stage for the final of the second round which was on the topic “Social media is good for elections and democracy”. The final was won by UniFiji Team 1 which argued from the affirmative side.
The contests were judges by a panel consisting of Ms Mele Rakai, a legal practitioner at Sherani & Company, Mr, Jovilisi Liganivai, a legal practitioner at Munro Leys Lawyers and Ms Miriam Naco, also a legal practitioner at Parshotam & Company.
Speaking during the opening session of the event, the DF Executive Director, Mr Nilesh Lal elaborated on the importance of such debate competitions in creating awareness on democratic processes such as elections amongst the youths of Fiji.
“One of the things that we have observed in Fiji is that there’s a lot of enthusiasm about elections and there is a relatively high voter turnout but the issue of youth apathy relating to national politics is a real issue. Some of the activities that we are implementing under this project are geared towards addressing this issue. Through this debate series, we are encouraging tertiary students in Fiji to research on, critically analyze and then eventually debate on various aspects of electoral system and processes in Fiji, which creates discourse on elections within tertiary student communities.”
The Executive Director also thanked UKAid for their timely funding which has enabled DF to increase awareness and understanding of electoral processes in Fiji, as Fiji gears up for its third national elections under a new electoral framework.
Adarsh Kumar, who represented UniFiji in the competition said the competition has enhanced his knowledge of the electoral system.
“I feel that this debate competition gave an opportunity to learn about things that many people don’t know about. Being medical students, we are not greatly exposed to such issues in our academic genre, however, I enjoyed researching and analyzing the topics relating to elections, and I would definitely say that it’s really interesting to know about our country’s electoral system, both as a student and a citizen,” said Kumar.
A debater from FNU, Grace Young thanked the organizers for holding the debate, which has benefitted her as a student studying applied social sciences.
“I personally resonated with our side of arguments mainly because I am a Social Science student and we have learnt and researched about such issues at the university. Thus, the debate competition has not only increased my understanding about the topics we cover in courses but also improved my debating skills,” said Young.
The eventual winners of the second round, the UniFiji Team 1 received $600 alongside the winner’s trophy whilst the runner up, FNU Team 2, received a prize money of $300 together with a trophy. The two participating teams which lost in the initial contests, received consolation prizes of $150 each, for their efforts and participation.
The finals of the Inter-University Debate Series will be held on 9th April, and will be a battle of the winning teams from the University of the South Pacific, the Fiji National University and the University of Fiji.
A one-day Dialogue Fiji (DF) workshop on Fiji’s Electoral system and processes was held at the Tanoa Skylodge Hotel, in Nadi on the 23rd of March, 2022.
The activity is part of the “Building Public Confidence in Elections in Fiji through Civil Society Actions” project which is funded by UKAid through theConflict, Stability, and Security Fund and is being implemented by Dialogue Fiji and International IDEA.
Taking place against the backdrop of the 2022 general elections in Fiji, the workshop aimed to increase understanding of the country’s electoral framework and processes
More than 35 participants joined from different communities in Nadi, which included representatives from various youth groups, civil society organisation and organisations of people with special needs.
The workshop sessions were facilitated by the DF Programmes Officer, Dzoshua Yee, and the DF Administration and Finance Manager, Farisha Nigar.
In his opening remarks, Mr Yee welcomed the participants and elaborated on the aim of the workshop and the duties of participants upon its completion.
“This workshop aims to build the knowledge and understanding of the participants on electoral system and processes whereby we hope that everyone present here today would become better informed voters upon the conclusion of the event and disseminate the key learnings with your respective communities,” said Mr. Yee.
The two facilitators presented on the electoral systems, seat allocation methods and and included activities such a history walk showing the electoral system evolution in Fiji. The workshop included group dialogue and deliberative sessions which allowed for participant interaction and reflection, and allowed people from diverse orientations to dialogue on issues and questions that emerged.
The participants reflection on the workshop.
Shahista Shafiq, who represented the Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network (CYCN Fiji) said her participation in the workshop was due to the limited knowledge she had about elections and and that she wanted to understand the voting processes better to make an informed and responsible choice.
Ranjeeta Devi from Fiji Disabled People’s Federation said she would use the learnings from the workshop to raise awareness amongst Fijians with special needs since they are unaware of such technical but important details about our electoral system. She further thanked Dialogue Fiji for organizing an inclusive community education workshop.
As part of Dialogue Fiji's (DF) ongoing activities under the “Building Public Confidence in Elections in Fiji through Civil Society Action” project, a day long workshop on Electoral System and Processes was organized at the Tanoa Waterfront Hotel last week.
Held on the 22nd March 2022, the workshop sought to increase understanding and knowledge on Fiji’s electoral system and processes. 40 participants comprising of community members, university students and representatives of Youth groups and civil society organizations (CSOs) actively working on democracy and promotion of civil space, congregated for the workshop.
The DF Programmes Officer, Dzoshua Yee, facilitated the workshop along with the DF Administration and Finance Manager, Farisha Nigar, whereby they took the participants through various sessions of electoral systems, seat allocation methods and the Fijian electoral system/history Walk.
Yee underlined the importance of the CEW workshops in increasing awareness on elections especially as Fiji prepares for the general elections later in 2022.
“Every democracy requires citizen to understand its electoral system and processes to ensure that all voters, men and women alike, are aware of their rights and understand the ramifications of their votes. Voters must understand their rights and obligations, as well as be sufficiently well informed to cast legally valid votes and engage actively in the voting process, for the objectives of electoral democracy to be advanced,” said the DF Programmes Officer.
“Through this workshop, we hope to convey some knowledge about the Fijian electoral system and processes. After this workshop it is your duty as Community leaders to disseminate this information to people within your own communities.”
The workshop methodology included an interactive set of activities, enabling the participants to apply the key learnings from each session in a practical manner.
A participant, Eparama Qerewaqa, from Alliance for Future Generations said the workshop was insightful as he realized that he wasn’t aware of many aspects of the electoral system, which is crucial for every citizen to know about before putting the tick.
“This was a much-needed awareness, as this is the election year and knowledge is power so it is important that we know the processes that happen behind the scenes in regards to how the counting and seat allocation processes work. We would surely use this information and disseminate to the communities we serve.”
DF Community Education Workshop brings participants from diverse orientations to raise awareness on Electoral Systems and Processes.
By Dialogue Fiji
Earlier this week, more than 40 participants attended a Community Education Workshop on Electoral Systems and Processes at the Peninsula International Hotel in Suva. The workshop was part of the “Building Public Confidence in Elections in Fiji through Civil Society Action” project, which is jointly implemented by Dialogue Fiji and International IDEA and is funded by UKAid.
Speaking during the opening session of the workshop, Mr. Amitesh Prasad, the Programme Manager of the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) for the Pacific region, said that elections were an important cornerstone of democracy and afforded citizens the power to choose their leaders. Given its implications for political stability, the focus on elections was integral.
The day-long workshop was facilitated by the DF Executive Director, Nilesh Lal, who took participants through various sessions on electoral systems and processes, history of electoral system development in Fiji, seat allocation methods and implications, and afforded participants opportunities for deliberation.
The next Community Education Workshop would be held in the western division on the 22nd and 23rd March 2022.
Dialogue Fiji launched a video documentary “Riding the COVID waves” on 25th February 2022 at the Premium Cinema at Damodar City in Suva. The video documentary chronicles the covid pandemic as it unfolded in Fiji, including its impacts on the lives of Fijians.
The documentary was produced as part of Dialogue Fiji’s project “Strengthening Citizen Engagement in Fiji’s Covid-19 Response” that is funded by the Commonwealth Foundation.
The General Manager of Fiji’s Covid Response Unit, Dr Anaseini Maisema was the Chief Guest at the event where she talked about the Ministry of Health’s efforts to contain the pandemic in Fiji.
“At some point during these past 2 years nothing made sense outside the shadow of the pandemic. The horrendous number of deaths and families bereaved; the destruction of businesses and livelihoods; the harms to mental health and the countless lost opportunities were somethings we as a nation had to fight for collectively,” she said.
Dr Maisema acknowledged that the efforts and co-operation of Fijians has enabled them to contain the outbreak. She acknowledged the efforts of civil society organisations such as Dialogue Fiji in raising awareness on COVID-19 response through their initiatives.”
Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of DF, Nilesh Lal said that effectively addressing the impacts of a pandemic of this scale requires a whole of society approach.
“Whilst statutory authorities are often the drivers of the response, the engagement of citizens and their co-operation remains critical to achieving the intended objectives of interventions,” said Lal.
“As part of this Commonwealth Foundation funded project, we convened several deliberative forums, collected concerns of people, conducted research on aspects such as vaccine hesitancy, and submitted policy recommendations. We also created opportunities for ordinary Fijians to engage directly with top policy makers at Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services,” said Lal.
He also thanked the Commonwealth Foundation for supporting the project and everyone that participated in it.
The programme concluded with the distribution of a DF compiled report under the same project ‘Parents’ Intentions and Perceptions about COVID-19 Vaccination for their Children'.
Held on Thursday the 15th of August 2019.
Target Group: Local community leaders and members of the community.
Number of Participants: 25
Invited Guests: Two representatives from the Ministry of Rural Development
The activity created a space for engagement between communities and statutory authorities on the issues faced by the former, and also build relationships and local capacity for effective engagement on community issues.
The forum was a day long event with sessions led by Dialogue Fiji staff, Ministry of Rural Development Staff and facilitated concern collecting sessions, where citizens were provided an opportunity to articulate issues they faced and engage in dialogue with state representatives on those issues.
The location for this activity was Sigatoka, which has rural communities that are removed from the administrative, decision and policy making centres of Fiji and therefore have limited engagement with state entities.
Senior officials from the Ministry of Rural Development who contribute to policy making in the ministry were part of this forum. In addition to hearing concerns of communities, the Ministry representatives also informed communities of government’s development plans, provide information on service delivery, and procedures and processes for citizen engagement in decision and policy formulation.
Inspired by the Betzavta methodologies, and using materials developed by International IDEA’s Youth Democracy Academy, Dialogue Fiji hosted a 2-day long workshop on democracy education developing knowledge and skills of the participants to become active democratic citizens of their society.
The seminars also aimed to increase understanding of, and passion for democracy amongst young participants to address the issue of youth political apathy, and Fiji’s historical realities of struggling with democracy.
Dialogue Fiji (DF) partnered up with The Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding (PCP) and facilitated a 1 day community education workshop at Siris Apartment conference room in Nausori on Friday 24th May. This was made possible through the Citizens- Constitution- Consolidation (C3 – Fiji Project), a project that is funded by the European Union.
The workshop was attended by a group of youth participants, who traveled from Navua, Lami, Suva and Nausori in order to build on their knowledge on democracy and democratic governance, Fiji’s constitution, human rights, and peace building approaches.
During the day, facilitation techniques such as group discussions, plenary discussions, group work on skills development for conflict analysis and management were employed to ensure that participants were able to effectively engage on human rights and democratic governance issues affecting them and utilize conflict analysis tools for conflict management and transformation, which are critical skills for building democratic cultures and societies.
A majority of the participants that attended the workshop were not familiar with conflict resolution tools before or understood the importance of their human and constitutional rights. Dialogue Fiji saw this as an excellent opportunity to create awareness among the youth participants to increase their understanding of their constitutional rights and inspire a greater willingness in them to exercise those rights.
There are four co-implementers of the C3-Fiji Project: Citizens Constitutional Forum (CCF), Dialogue Fiji (DF), Media Watch Group (MWG), and Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding (PCP).