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Young Fijian feminist advocate, Betty Barkha’s appointment to the Global civil society alliance CIVICUS’ board of directors is an achievement for Fijian civil society, says the Fiji Council of Social Services.
FCOSS executive director, Vani Catanasiga said Barkha’s inclusion in the board is indicative of the tireless effort of Fijian CSO advocates to leverage regional issues on international platforms.
“As a Fijian CSO, we were very proud when Betty’s successful election into the board was announced last week during the International Civil Society Week - ICSW in Serbia,” Catanasiga said.
“It’s a huge achievement for Fiji because she might be the first Fijian to have been elected to the CIVICUS board of directors and FCOSS celebrates this appointment with her,” she said.
Barkha, a Lautoka native first connected with CIVICUS at the International Civil Society Week 2017 in Suva, Fiji which was hosted by the Pacific Islands Association of NGOs (PIANGO).
“After ICSW in 2017, I was appointed to the Youth action team and worked closely with the innovation for change team. Being in both spaces allowed me to understand their vision and how crucial it was for a Pacific voice in leadership, hence when asked to be nominated I took the opportunity of one that is clearly needed,” Barkha said.
“Growing up in Lautoka and having witnessed my parents’ heavy involvement with the union movement, definitely added to my interest of being actively engaged with communities,” she said.
She said she was only able to access capacity development opportunities after moving to Suva for tertiary studies.
“Coming from the western division did make me want to try harder to maximise every opportunity I could get, but Lautoka has always been my comfort space.”
Barkha has been involved in development for over eight years with various organisations in the Asia-Pacific. She is currently the youngest serving member on the board of directors of the Association of Women in Development (AWID). Additionally, she is an advisor with FRIDA Young Feminist Fund and a member of the Women Deliver Young Leaders Program.
“It’s important for civil society to be strategic and ensure we partner and collaborate with all stakeholders possible, we have to play to our strengths. I hope to be a young Pacific voice in this space and look forward to the opportunity and learning!”
Barkha said she believes Pacific advocates need to be able to utilize as many tools of dissemination possible to bring to attention what development justice means and the implications of global inequality on the global south.
“Betty and I have often met up in regional and international spaces where she’s consistently been the only solid ally in the room pushing for Fiji and Pacific issues particularly women and peace, human rights and climate action,” Catanasiga said.
Catanasiga said FCOSS will continue to support Barkha in her role to represent Pacific voices on the international CSO board over her tenure.
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