It is crucial for youths to exercise their constitutional rights to constructively engage with their country’s sustainable development path at all levels.
This was evident during a community consultation in Moturiki District in the Lomaiviti Province, located in the Eastern Division of Fiji, where young people were among those who recognized the values stated in the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji and could access the social, economic and legal services provided by the government.
People from all ten villages in the district were engaged in discussions on their constitutional rights and could access the information and services provided by the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Legal Aid Commission, Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission and other local government offices and representatives such as Police, Judicial Department and the Provincial Council.
Coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji, the mobile service delivery team held awareness raising sessions and delivered services to the doorstep of communities.
In Navuti village, Elenoa Naidoleca, a single mother of 5 and 9-year-old boys was among the others who met with the mobile service delivery team at the village hall. It was her first time to meet the officers and discuss her living situation.
She is expected to make monetary contributions to various village and church activities in addition to making ends meet for her children and herself. Supported by families and other villagers, she could provide for her children despite not having any source of income.
“I came to know about the assistance which I am entitled to, and I was given advice by Social Welfare Officer and Legal Aid Officer to apply for maintenance,” said Naidoleca.
Youths from Yanuca village and Naicabecabe village attended the awareness and service delivery sessions at Yanuca village hall.
Pauliasi Racumu from Yanuca village said the youth group has been actively engaging in community work to recover from the damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston which destroyed the villages.
Savaia Baunaki from Naicabecabe village said, ‘It would be good if we also organize ourselves and discuss various topics among youths.’
Raising awareness of constitutional rights and social, economic and legal services provided by the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, the Legal Aid Commission and the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission is one of the ways which assist young people to tackle those issues they have been dealing with such as violence at home, in communities and schools, gender and intergenerational relations, poverty and education.
Alelia Rarasea from Yanuca village said, “We benefitted from the team who came to our village today. We are more aware of our rights and entitlements by directly listening and talking to the officers rather than getting partial information from those who attend workshops in the towns or cities.”
The mobile service delivery is implemented as part of the Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) for Rural and Urban Fijians Project which aims to promote peace building, social cohesion and inclusiveness through awareness of rights, access to services, provision of legal advice and institutional capacity building in Fiji.
The Government has endorsed the global Sustainable Development Goals which aim to ensure that no one will be left behind and endeavor to reach the furthest behind first. Goal 16 is a commitment to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build eﬀective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. For Goal 5, there is commitment to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. The REACH Project supports the achievement of these goals.
The project is implemented in Fiji by the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji in partnership with the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, and the Legal Aid Commission with support from the Government of Japan and UNDP.
Tomoko Kashiwazaki, REACH Project Advocacy and Outreach Officer, email: email@example.com