by Frances Tawake

“Working in the community is one of the best experience in my life,” shared Rohini Nadan, district advisory councillor for the Bau and Namata areas in Nausori. “I have learned a lot especially when it comes to addressing the different needs of my community, particularly women.”

In the role for more than nine years, Nadan continues to feel a passion for serving the community.

In her time, she has been involved in several spaces and using a range of skills as a leader. She’s been the treasurer for the Eastern Division Duavata Crime Prevention board, a community health worker at the Mokani Health Centre and a committee member at the Kuku Navyuak Sangam temple.

Nadan strongly feels that women need to be recognised for the different roles they play in the society and be given a chance to engage effectively in all development processed.

“Women can do everything,” she explained. “Women (should be) able to participate in decision making process because women are equally as qualified as men.”

“Involving women in the planning of income generating projects in the community is also important as women know what’s best in their community. Women raise issues that others overlook.”

The issues that she has raised most recently include pressing health and personal insecurities during femLINK’s district consultations.

“We need street lights too on the road sides the reason being of narrow roads and no footpaths along specially Vuci Road,” Nadan explained. “We feel unsafe walking on the road in the evenings, especially when our daughters get off the bus when they come back from tertiary schools.”

Poor infrastructure is not just creating a vacuum in the feeling of safety, but in access to healthcare as well.

“We have bigger settlements,” outlined Nadan. “If the dispensary is there (in the community), it’s easy for the people to access through the medication service.”

“It saves their time, it saves their money running to town and maybe they’ll get a sooner treatment rather than waiting for long hours.”

These issues and more she is fielding for the members of her community. While she is proud to be leading for the nine years she’s held an advisory councillor position, Nadan noted that there needs to be more women in these positions of leadership.

“I come in need to a lot of women who are not very open to men councillors,” she shared. “Most of the councillors are men so they (the women) feel easy to come and discuss their issues, their family problems and their personal issues with me.”

But she does not only engage with the women who need her most.

“I’m always available for any community member to come in any time so that I can help,” she added.

At the end of the day, Nadan is looking forward to a Fiji that has gender equality as a lived reality.

“Seek to end discrimination against women that others ignore,” she expressed. “It is time to value our participation.”