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Women, Development and Empowerment: A Pacific Feminist Perspective


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Evaluations by participants (excluding Organising Committee Members), in random order.

To begin with, the whole workshop from the onset gave me the impression that we were going to deal with very technical and academic brainstorming perspectives but I was proven wrong later because of the actual content and practical method of approach initiated and carried throughout by the facilitators and the women themselves.

Overall, a very productive experience that I have learned a lot from and will hope to get support to take back to the Solomon Islands and to enhance my own women.

It was very encouraging to see the confidence, assertiveness that emerged. The time limit was discouraging for some women for whom it is the first time to get together to talk with other Pacific women; also women not involved in research work or academic studies might have felt intimidated in speaking before others with that experience.

Where grass roots level of realities, eg. families, education, environment were discussed, there was more input from a greater part of the participants, but where the page 134 economy and politics were concerned, just a small group had ideas. Maybe a further and more simplified discussion of political and economic development was needed.

The organisation was good but the time allocated for each session was not enough, particularly for topics that were very broad. However, the topics examined during the workshop were very important particularly in referring back to our own societies.

The organisers need to be congratulated for the tremendous effort put into the whole programme. The objectives were very relevant to women's needs for better knowledge and understanding of their own status as individuals and also, their roles in all areas of development. The subject areas chosen were educational and beneficial. A lot of new ideas have been created and formulated, increasing my understanding of ways and means of motivating women.

The discussion was good in drawing out everyone's expertise, which established a good sense of sharing and learning amongst the participants.

The workshop has woken up many minds and dreams of struggles of women in the Pacific Islands. All our dreams may never come about as we struggle in this male-dominated society, but we can take the first steps.

I have been to two Pacific women's meetings in '75 and '78 here in Fiji. I have found through this one that there is a lot of progress and evaluation of how we are trying to think and criticise our own realities, even if on some particular points we page 135 seem to disagree. But the most important thing for me is this collective advancement in thinking from our own realities and practical involvement.

I have longed to establish a regional connection with women in the Pacific who seek to improve their status. This workshop provided me with that opportunity for which I will be “eternally thankful”. Being here, sharing, reacting and living with other Pacific women as we worked towards a “vision of justice” for ourselves and all our people in the Pacific has been extremely meaningful, inspirational, educational, supportive… a truly feminist experience.

The content of the workshop had given me the courage to look critically at myself, my attitudes, my actions, and also to critically examine the world outside of me with a female-centered and Pacific-centered perspective.

I find it difficult to evaluate such a workshop since there were no objectives to evaluate it against.

The workshop has been organised by individual women who have ideas about development but are not working in women's organisations (sic). We have been organising these sorts of activities since 1975. I would not like us to start something new every time we think the last meeting or strategy has not worked.

I felt that the co-ordinating committee had their set ideas of how the meeting would result and were not flexible enough with suggestions or experiences from the participants; they were quite defensive in a few cases.

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Through the interactions and debatable issues that were covered in the workshop, I came to realise factors which were never recognised before in my society (as they existed in reality). As someone who never thought of herself as a feminist, this kind of workshop is a great example whereby women become more aware of things which are considered improvements for women. The discussion on the concept of feminism illuminated factors which people who don't regard themselves as feminist are actually doing. What we discussed and debated within the workshop's structured framework brought to light things which participants never seem to think of as situations within their capabilities to improve.

There was no specific objective for guidelines to be drawn up at the end of the workshop. The guidelines were too general; there was no specific end to work towards in achieving the objectives of the workshop; the whole workshop was too wide and too general for any specific firm commitments or recommendations from the workshop.

The workshop was very interesting and also very fruitful. Now that we have learnt and shared ideas and experiences from each participant in the Pacific, I feel that what we have discussed in the workshop must be put into practice for the betterment of women's status in our countries.

This meeting has been very successful because women who are actually out in the field have been sharing their experiences which should happen more often so that women are assisting one another. Some women are carrying out programmes that would assist others in their own struggles in organising women.

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Monday-most interesting, eye opening and have developed a better understanding of the term feminism/feminist.

Tuesday-got lost in all the discussion on devlopment plans. Clear on projects, etc.

The workshop has given me a positive outlook on feminism as a whole. Wholly support the struggle for feminism as defined.

Found venue beautiful, lovely people, delicious food. A wonderful chance to relax in peaceful surroundings and concentrate on the workshop, as well as make new friends and establish a good net-working system with other women/agencies.