In Fiji, Marstel-Day and WI-HER, as well as their counterparts at the University of the South Pacific, the Fiji Environmental Law Association, Live & Learn Environmental Education, and Fiji’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) Programme, worked together to implement the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and REDD+ in Fiji: Tackling Resource Conflict and Addressing Gender-Based Risk (GBR) in the Environment project. This project promoted gender equity and transformation by supporting institutional changes that identify and address GBV in resource-based conflicts in Fiji.
Direct and indirect project beneficiaries
People trained on GBV prevention
Participants who are now more aware of GBV through the project
In Fiji, 72% of women experience one or more types of violence in their lifetime from husbands or intimate partners. While over 90% of forestland in Fiji is communally owned with customary ownership, its patrilineal systems render women largely invisible with respect to land ownership or rights to land-generated resources. Women are absent from most public decision-making processes, even if they are invited to be physically present, and they are relegated to lesser roles by male leadership. Barriers resulting from the combination of land tenure systems, gender bias in traditional land-use decision-making, and poor resource management have negatively influenced women’s economic status and resulted in increased incidences of GBV.
The project built upon Marstel-Day’s previous work to design and implement the Government of Fiji’s Feedback, Grievances, and Redress Mechanism (FGRM), a promising framework for resolving resource-based disputes and conflicts that may arise from REDD+ programming. The FGRM facilitates two-way communication between communities and national government agencies or companies to solve issues arising from REDD+ programming through formalized dialogue.
With RISE funding, the consortium used WI-HER’s proven iDare methodology, based on the science of improvement and behavior change theory, to apply a GBV lense to examine existing grievances and conflicts around land and resource rights in Fiji. The activity directly benefited stakeholders from Drawa through consultations, training, and collaborative re-design of the adapted FGRM+, which improved capacity and understanding of the linkages between GBV and the environment. The adapted FGRM+ integrates steps that manage GBV cases with appropriate sensitivity and awareness, and introduces processes to facilitate linkages to existing resources in Fiji for potential instances of GBV. The consortium also developed an updated communications strategy to help guide government strategies for raising awareness around GBR, advocating increased access to and use of the FGRM+, and engaging Indigenous women and men in the ongoing improvement of REDD+ services.
Over 23 months, Marstel-Day’s and WI-HER’s project reached 46 women and 56 men who were directly consulted in the FGRM+ adaptation process, and over 1,000 people indirectly through awareness-raising and capacity-building activities. The direct beneficiaries included government representatives, representatives from local non-governmental and civil society organizations, REDD+ site community members, forest officers, and members of the private sector.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Marstel-Day and WI-HER pivoted to remote interviews and focus group discussions, which were particularly challenging given the discussion of sensitive topics like GBV. To help overcome these challenges, WI-HER developed a remote interview protocol and worked through a trusted local partner to set up the consultations. Ultimately, the team’s investment in building trust through curated interviews and focus groups led to a deeper understanding of local needs and sensitivities, as well as a better-informed adaptation of the FGRM to respond to those needs appropriately while mitigating GBR and GBV. At the project’s socialization event and the final FGRM+ training workshop, over half of the participants demonstrated an increase in knowledge and understanding of GBV and GBR in the country.