Digital feminism in Fiji
This research project explores how feminists and women’s rights activists in Fiji are using digital technologies. It is a collaborative project with researchers at the University of the South Pacific.
During Fiji’s 2014 elections, social media – especially Facebook – was widely used as a campaigning tool by candidates. A recent study (Finau et al. 2015) has shown how social media in Fiji is also evolving as the ‘new and safe’ space for political discourse: young, technologically savvy citizens are using social media to engage with information that is restricted in the traditional media by political constraints and reporting restrictions. Young people in Fiji increasingly turn to social media for information about political issues and to discuss those issues with their peers, or to find information about their preferred political parties. Further, the internet is among the few spaces outside mainstream politics that are accessible to minorities and women’s activism (Greene 2005).
To examine digital feminism and activism, the study uses qualitative data from in-depth focus groups and interviews involving graduates of the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement’s Emerging Leaders Forum and other feminists who use social media for their activism. The study also draws on content analysis of social media, primarily Twitter and Facebook forums such as Take Back the Streets, which was created to document instances of harassment against women.
Early results, presented at the 2016 Australian Association for Pacific Studies annual conference, provide examples of both the effective use of social media to promote human rights, and of the risks and challenges faced in doing so. Findings will be published later this year after further data analysis.
Tait Brimacombe (DLP Research Fellow, La Trobe University; team leader)
Team members from the University of the South Pacific, Fiji (left to right) – Glen Finau, Romitesh Kant, Jope Tarai and Jason Titifanue:
Main image: Young activits promote the message of ending violence against women at a workshop in Fiji (UN Women/Ellie van Baaren)