(Photo: Loop Pacific)

Tongan young women define peace, human security

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(Reposted from: Loop Pacific.  August 15, 2017)

Peace is not just a statement, it’s not just a word but is an act that leaders and people in the community, at home, in our country need to act upon,” says Vika Savieti.

Savieti is one of 15 young women who participated at a Human Security Peace Education consultation held yesterday (Monday 14th August) in Nukualofa.

The event was led by femLINKpacific in collaboration with the Talitha Project as part of the regional Gender Inclusive Conflict Prevention and Human Security programme of Global Partnership of the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) Pacific supported by the Pacific Islands Forum Non State Actors programme funded by the European Union.

“Peace Education is not about teaching young women Peacebuilding practice but investing in their time and space to define their Peace and Human Security,” said Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, Executive Producer-Director of femLINKpacific and the Chairperson of the International Board of GPPAC. “This is critical as a feminist organisation because too often we are defining a future that looks conflict riddled rather than asking young women and girls what is the future they want and then working with them to realise these visions.”

According to Bhagwan Rolls, the messages will set the scene for the GPPAC Tonga network meeting (15 August) and provide insights as to how to progress Forum Leaders commitment to conflict prevention, human security and UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

“It is time that women and girls are put at the centre of defining the Peace for our region,” she added.

“This was a good opportunity for my group to see what Tonga really needs,” highlighted Emanita Vakaahi, 19 years old and also a volunteer at the Talitha Project. “Youth and girls have our own important needs and we need to speak up because men are not the only ones who need to speak and they do need to hear our voices.”

“When we go back to the community and work in the community what we notice is that not all the voices are being heard,” explained 24 year old Savieti who is studying for a certificate in youth development at Tupou Tertiary Institute in Nukualofa and a volunteer based at the Talitha Project – an NGO that empowers young women to reach their full potential by providing information through innovative media and communications. “Most of the women don’t talk during (the) town council meeting – even the youth when they talk the elders shut you down.” 

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