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Oxfam Partner Wins Int. Women of Courage Award

Oxfam partner wins International Women of Courage Award

Virisila Buadromo, Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand programme partners, Fiji Women's Rights Movement, has won an International Women of Courage Award. The award was given yesterday in Washington by the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Seven other women from Afghanistan, Paraguay, Iraq, Kosovo, Pakistan, Somalia and Palestine have also received this year's award.

Buadromo has been honoured for her strong grassroots advocacy for women's development and human rights, lobbying for greater gender equality and legal and political reforms. Following the 2006 coup, she was hauled into the military barracks on Christmas Eve and endured horrific abuse, followed by a two-month travel ban.

With the support of Oxfam she then proceeded to expand their Emerging Leaders' Forum work that focuses on young women between the ages of 14 and 25, training them to be able to inform and influence their peers on issues such as human rights, reproductive health and poverty, as well as how to deal with discrimination.

For many young women, the Emerging Leaders' Forum has been a life-changing experience. The programme builds confidence and self-belief so they have a stronger voice and are encouraged to take positions of influence and leadership, whether in their schools, communities, churches, youth groups or political groups.

"Virisila is an inspiring champion of human rights. Her experiences demonstrate the bravery and tenacity needed in the struggle for women's equality around the world," says Barry Coates, Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand. "The Fiji Women's Rights Movement has successfully used research, legal advice, advocacy training and literacy programmes to raise awareness of women's rights amongst both women and men in Fiji."

"It is an honour to work with such an effective organisation. We congratulate Virisila on this well-deserved award."

Oxfam has a long-standing relationship with the Fiji Women's Rights Movement which began through support for the Women's Employment and Economic Rights project in 1993. A decade later the group achieved a significant victory with the Fiji Parliament unanimously passing the Family Law Bill. The Bill recognises women's non-financial contribution to a marriage, allowing domestic housewives to claim a share in the matrimonial property should divorce occur. It also ensures that during child custody proceedings, the right of the child to be raised in an environment that will help in her/his development is essential.

The Fiji Women's Rights Movement believes that change can happen if the law treats women and men equally. The organisation continues to fight for legal reforms and a change in attitude towards women and women's rights within their community and society as a whole.


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