Pacific Islands Women in Leadership Program Holds Capstone Workshop in Suva, Fiji

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Pacific Islands Women in Leadership 2015 participants and staff

The 2014-2015 Pacific Islands Women in Leadership (WIL) Program held its capstone workshop in Suva, Fiji, May 17-23, 2015.  The weeklong program allowed the participants to reconnect with each other as well as make new connections within the Pacific Region.

The group reported on the status of the projects they started upon returning home after the initial program workshop held in Honolulu in October 2015.  Two of the participants from Fiji shared their projects with the WIL group with site visits.

Ms. Agatha Furivai’s project focused on the sustainability of the Rotuman culture, identity, and heritage through sharing and nurturing.  She opened the “Centre for IPAniu Edu-communication and Culture” on May 13, 2015.  In the second half of the opening-day activities, Ms. Gretchen Alther conducted a workshop with the Rotuman community and members of the Housing Assistant Relief Trust (HART) on what leadership means in their communities and how they see leadership changing.

On May 18, 2015, the Rotuman and HART communities conducted a traditional welcome for the WIL participants, mentor, and staff.  The WIL group returned to the “Centre for IPAniu Edu-communication and Culture on Wednesday, May 20th to conduct another workshop for the Rotuman women and HART members.  This workshop introduced the WIL group to the communities and gave them the opportunity to hear about the projects being implemented in Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga.  The projects inspired the community and have generated excitement for implementing similar ideas.

On Tuesday, May 19th, the WIL group also visited Naboutini Village where Ms. Devina Devi is working with the village on climate change issues as well as minimizing Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).  The group participated in a kava ceremony as a part of the formal welcome from the village.  Dr. Scott MacLeod then led the village in a futures workshop while Ms. Gretchen Alther and the WIL ladies helped facilitate in the different small group discussions.  A total of 56 people from Naboutini Village and Navutulevu participated in the workshop.  After the workshop, the group was given a tour of the village, which is located directly on the shoreline, and it was clear that climate change is a daily factor in the residents’ lives.

WIL participants and staff held a futures workshop in Naboutini Village, where participant Devina Devi is working on climate change issues and minimizing non-communicable diseases

On Wednesday, May 20th, Ambassador Cefkin, the U.S. Ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu; Ms. Shamima Ali, Director of the Women’s Crisis Center; and Ms. Adimaimalaga Tafunai, Women in Business Development Inc, joined the WIL participants in a round table discussion about leadership within the political, social and economic sectors.  This discussion allowed both established and emerging leaders to candidly discuss leadership in various fields.

The group was also invited to a reception at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence, where the group could broaden its professional network as well as meet alumni from various State Department programs.  The group also met two alumni who attended the Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI) in 2013, Ms. Ana Ravu and Ms. Lillian Traill.  The two SUSI alumni will be participating on Fiji’s Outrigger Canoe team at the Pacific Games to be held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (July 4-18, 2015).

The weeklong program concluded with personal reflections on leadership, the progression of the participants’ applied leadership projects, and suggestions for future WIL programming.  While the end of the formal, in-person portions of the program has concluded, the group will continue to work on their projects within their communities.  The East-West Center’s participation in this program has made an impact, not only on the participants, but also in the communities in which they live and work, as well as on other East-West Center leadership programs.