Mere Champions Disaster Preparedness

Women Leadership Program Empowers Women to take on Leadership roles in Communities

Taking up leadership roles and being involved in decision-making is hardly a common practice in in any rural setting in Fiji taking into consideration the traditional hierarchy and protocol in place.

While this is a barrier in many rural communities, Mereani Cakacaka of Nacavanadi in Cakaudrove is now having her voice heard in her community spearheading disaster preparedness awareness and activities.

Through CAN DO’s Women Leadership program under the Australian Humanitarian Partnership’s Disaster READY program, Mereani revealed it has brought about many positive changes as men and women are now collaborating to ensure people in their community are prepared for any disaster.

Through the Women Leadership training, Mereoni and 30 other women explored how women can be involved as leaders and decision-makers within the disasters and emergency preparedness activities in the village. They were also joined by the community leaders and men who were also educated on the important roles’ women can play with full responsibility during any disasters.

“I am really grateful for the opportunity to learn disaster risk reduction through the Women Leadership program and how we can be part of the decision-making process in our communities, information sharing and also disaster risk reduction,” Mereani said.

She shared an impact of the program is how women have now joined the Community Disaster Committee and it is not only advancing the rights and equality of women, but they are positively driving changes.

Mereoni’s role is not limited to her responsibilities within the Disaster Committee she joined last year. She also conducts awareness and training to women from the nearby communities.

During village meetings, she is also grateful to have been given the platform to conduct DRR awareness.

“I also conduct refresher training in our village which also includes our men, and we look forward to implementing what we have learnt when the next disaster hits Fiji,” Mereoni added.

Mere leads the discussions during the refresher DRR course held in June 2023 at Nacavanadi.