Centre for Gender Research (CGR)
The Centre for Gender Research at the University of Fiji was established by the University Council to inspire and instigate cogent research-based academic discourses on gender issues with a particular emphasis on women’s contribution to sustainable development in the context of gendered realities within Fiji and across the Pacific. The core objectives of the CGR’s research platform are aligned with the Fiji government’s ongoing efforts to mainstream gender equality in its public policies and legislations. The UN itself recognizes that gender equality and women’s empowerment are integral to the achievement of sustainable development. Women’s empowerment essentially requires the acknowledgement, appreciation and documentation of the significance of women’s contributions to sustainable socio-economic and political development. This imperative is fundamental to the achievement of Goal 3 and its Target 4 of the Rio Summit’s MDGs, particularly in relation to Principle 20 of the Rio Declaration. Researching and documenting women’s realities, issues and participation at both the micro (community based) and macro (nationwide) levels is a necessary process in women’s empowerment. In this vein, women’s empowerment constitutes a core focus of the CGR’s research program as it seeks to increase awareness and appreciation of the significant contribution that women have made, and will continue to make to the sustainable development of the nation state in Fiji as well as within the Pacific through its documentation and publication of good quality, evidence-based gender research. Given that the rubric of gender research is both multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary, the planned research activities of the CGR will provide avenues for a range of cross-disciplinary collaborations for research on women and reproductive health, violence against women, women and micro-finance, women in sustainable agriculture, women’s participation in the informal economy, and women in the context of diaspora.
Dr Asinate Mausio
Centre for Gender Research
According to the last Census (Fiji Bureau of Statistics 2007), women make up an estimated 49% of Fiji’s total population, yet their contribution to social, economic and political development in Fiji remains under documented and undervalued. This problem stems largely from an overemphasis on intra-gender cleavages such as the ethnic-based schisms and class segmentation rather than celebrating gender-commonalities and shared experiences. Since Fiji is a multi-ethnic nation, efforts to facilitate women’s empowerment here need to focus on consolidating gender solidarities to bridge intra-gender cleavages like the ethnic and class divides that weaken solidarity and unity among Fijian women. According to the latest Census figures for Fiji (Fiji Bureau of Statistics 2007 estimates), out of a total women population of 387,188, iTaukei females comprise 233,263 of this total and outnumber Fijian women of Indian origin whose total stands at 153,925. This constraint in population sizes can both be a curse and blessing because it stands to reason that development intervention to empower less than a quarter million women should be relatively easier than administering to a larger population of females but in terms of aggregate human capital, the constraint in female population size can be a downside with regard to the extent of human capital potentials.
There is a lack of literature on intra-gender collaborations for sustainable development and conflict mediation. There are various reasons for these gaps in gender literature pertaining to Fiji and the situation is compounded by an undervaluing and general disinterest in the potentials for building gender solidarities through research and documentation.
Mainstreaming and Empowering Women in Fiji through Gender Research
Fiji has progressively acknowledged and mainstreamed gender issues in its legal and human rights reforms since 1988 (ADB 2006). The Fiji government endorsed the national Women’s Plan of Action (WPA) 1999–2008 in 1999. The WPA has core objectives for advancing the economic, legal, and political status of women. At the international level, Fiji has ratified eight major international agreements and programs for action on gender parity and women’s empowerment and advancement. The CGR will develop a research database to track Fiji’s adherence to international agreements on gender issues and to document and disseminate information on Fijian women’s participation in sustainable social and economic development.
- To highlight through the CGR’s research programs the constraints and prospects for intra-gender solidarities (bridging the ethnic and class divides) in Fiji.
- To conduct research on gender issues and women’s empowerment and gender mainstreaming in public policies and legislations in Fiji as well as across the Pacific.
- To disseminate information on gender and development issues and women’s empowerment at various levels.
- To strengthen and broaden the scope of knowledge on gender issues and women’s empowerment locally and to expand this database at a later stage to the Pacific in general.
To develop as a Centre of Excellence in Gender Research within Fiji and to nurture a robust research culture focused on recognizing, measuring, appreciating and documenting the significant contribution of women to sustainable development, democratization, globalization and modernization.
In order to develop and establish itself as a well-resourced Centre of Excellence in Gender Research, the staff of the will implement a phased program of research activities to:
- develop and sustain a well-resourced database for research papers, bibliographies and other publications on gender topics.
- spearhead funded research projects focused on gendered realities at the local and regional levels and to make available the outcomes and findings of these research activities to governments, NGOs, bilateral and multilateral donor agencies.
- develop cutting-edge research designs for quantitative and qualitative research on women’s contribution to sustainable development.
- undertake baseline studies on local communities to compile an inventory of women’s access to microfinance, land, natural resources, alternative livelihoods and participation in small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and in the informal economy of the Western Division. In this instance, sampling will be carried out in various squatter settlements and iTaukei villages in the Western Division.
- enable the communities (both local and global) to benefit from research undertaken through short courses and workshops.
- establish viable and proactive networks with women’s lobby groups and associations at the local, regional and international levels.
- engage with government, particularly the Ministry of Women, and the private sector for the resourcing and funding of CGR research projects and other CGR programs.
- raise awareness of and interest in gendered realities among academia via a realistic program of local workshops and international conferences on gender issues and theories of gender, sexuality and feminism.
- Initiate evidence-based social enquiries on the role of legislations and gender equality in Fiji.
- establish a database monitoring Fiji’s adherence to conventions relating to women signed by Fiji and dialogue with the government and its agencies regarding ratification and implementation of these treaties at the local level.
- work closely with the university’s ICT services to develop user-friendly online access to the CGR’s resources, publications and data sets.
- introduce (at an appropriate stage) the teaching of postgraduate courses in gender studies.
The CGR’s research activities are focused on four broad themes:
- Women’s Empowerment- the political economy of women’s participation in governance, sustainable development and conflict mediation
- Gender Equality- legislations, international conventions, public policies
- Violence against Women- activism, masculinity and feminism
- Women’s Health- reproductive health, sexuality, traditional medicine, community-based approaches to women’s welfare
- Annotated Bibliography
- API Bibliography
- Country Gender Reports – Fiji
- Delivery Strategy-Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development
- KA4 Annexure 5 – Bibliography on Gender
- MDGs Annotated
- Promoting Gender Equality
- UNIFEM Ending Violence Against Women
- Women & Migration Bibliograpy