Fiji’s newly elected parliamentarians have strengthened their role in oversighting Fiji’s programmes and commitments to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) within the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) at a workshop in Suva on Friday.
Fiji Speaker, Dr Jiko Luveni, recently announced as UNFPA’s Pacific High-Level Champion, opened the workshop, which attracted a quarter of all parliamentarians including Ministers, the Leader of the Opposition and MPs from the new Parliament’s Committee on Social Affairs.
The workshop was being organised by the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), with expert input from the local Reproductive & Family Health Association of Fiji, UNDP and UNWOMEN.
“Fiji’s parliamentarians and Ministers have a long history of advocating for rights-based population and development policies, especially in relation to gender equality, HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health and rights,” said Dr Luveni.
Parliamentarians discussed their priority issues within population and development for the new parliament with evidence-based debate prioritizing Ending Violence Against Women, comprehensive sexuality education, HIV, gender equity and equality, sexual and reproductive health and rights and population dynamics.
Former Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma, who along with Dr Luveni represented Fiji at the pivotal Pacific Moana Declaration commitment meeting on ICPD two years ago in the same venue with AFPPD, IPPF and UNFPA, said it was very important for those groups to be working with the new parliament so early in its term.
“The workshop aimed to strengthen the capacity of Fiji’s newly elected parliamentarians and their secretariats on ICPD and enhancing their capacity to integrate these issues into national and sectorial policies, plans and laws,” said AFPPD acting executive director John Hyde.
“Fiji has a strong civil society and IPPF is keen to assist parliamentarians to work with the Reproductive & Family Health Association of Fiji and other civil society groups to use evidence-based decision-making,” said Ms Nora Murat, Regional Director of IPPF (East & South-east Asia and Oceania Region).
Dr Sharma and Hon. Assistant Minister for Health, Ms Veena Bhatnagar, both spoke of the need for strong measurement and evaluation of reproductive health initiatives to assist MPs to advocate for funding and implementation.