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Movement Empowers Young Voters

PR02/2013

Friday February 1, 2013

PRESS RELEASE

Movement Empowers Young Voters

Forty-five young women and men, who will be voting for the first time in the next general elections, spent their Saturday understanding and learning the importance being an active citizen.

According to the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement’s Executive Director Virisila Buadromo, it was “great to see so many young people excited and eager to learn more about their voting rights”.

This was the first Information Session on Citizenship Rights in Constitution-Making and the Electoral Reform Process held for secondary students in the Central Division. Funded by the British High Commission, FWRM will conduct three information sessions targeting secondary school students around Fiji.

“Last weekend’s session was a huge success and we are keen to share the same information with secondary school students in the Northern and Western Divisions. This is part of the FWRM’s goal to empower young women and men to choose their own leaders,” she said.

Equipped with their colorful Youth Decide voting and elections-related documents folder, these young people spent the day learning about FWRM and the various contributions the women’s movement has made to Fiji’s democratic history. They were also introduced to Fiji’s constitutional process with a brief history on the country’s past constitutions

Demystifying electoral systems was next on the agenda and by the end of that particular session; the participants were well versed with Fiji’s past electoral systems - First Past the Post and the Alternative Voting System. A significant amount of time was spent in understanding the Proportional Representation System, which is anticipated to be Fiji’s next electoral system.

By the end of the day the facilitators were amazed to see the interactive discussions amongst the participants on the barriers young people normally face in accessing electoral systems; why it is important for young people to vote as well as how their vote could support candidates who understood youth related issues.

Participant Lorrissa Samuels “had an epic day learning about my rights and why young people should have the right to vote!”

Another participant said she was “now well informed about the electoral processes and how to go about choosing the candidate” she will vote for.

A third participant said he “understood the importance of registering to vote and actually voting because it’s important” for him to choose the candidate that addresses his issues best.

FWRM will be holding two similar sessions for students in the Northern and Western Divisions on Saturday January 2 & 9, 2013, respectively.

Participants were chosen via an open application process.

ENDS

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