by Alisia Evans
“Every day we’re amplifying women’s voices – through traditional and new media forms,” said Sian Rolls. “Every day, we’re chipping away at the invisibility of women in all their diversities, the unheard that definitely have something to say.”
Rolls is a passionate feminist communicator, artist, member of the UN Women’s Pacific Civil Society Advisory Group and Programme Associate at femLINKpacific today - but, in 2007, she was a volunteer producer broadcaster for FemTALK 89FM as part of the Generation Next project, femLINKpacific’s flagship project to develop a core group of young women from diverse backgrounds and experiences.
Young women were supported to be able to take to the airwaves and use information and communication to bridge the divide between urban and rural women and their communities and national and local governance structures.
“I started in high school,” she shared. “It was something to do. I couldn’t speak in front of people but I knew I wanted to help somehow. Making radio programmes and writing created a passion that guided what I chose to study in university.”
After graduating in 2014, Rolls left femLINKpacific in search of developing her skills and growing as a communicator. Alongside formal learning opportunities, she also attributes a lot of her work ethic, approach and worldview to her grandmother, Rachel Bhagwan.
“She knew how to work a room, how to speak to everyone,” Rolls reflected. “My mother has also been a huge influence but I know I spent a lot more time trying to emulate the soft power and feminism centred in faith that my grandma embodied.”
In mid-2015, Rolls returned as a programme associate – reinvigorated by a renewed connection to the Rural Women Leader’s network.
“Since 2007, I’ve had the privilege of getting out of Suva and meeting the women who are creating positive change in themselves, their families and communities,” Rolls outlined. “Over time, you see them grow in confidence, they speak more decisively. They grow together as leaders in the community media space and then go back into the community with information and faith in themselves as change makers. It’s an honour to be able to contribute to that space.”
She adds she’s also been glad to be among a group of young women trained as producer broadcasters, including through the Generation Next project.
“Outside of femLINKpacific, there aren’t as many young women engaged in the technical aspect of media production,” said Rolls. “I love learning about different ways to use technology and after my time outside the organisation, I know just how critical it is to continue to resource women’s media. We need to be setting the agenda, telling our stories and creating the narratives. It’s not as simple as just trying to get a woman to talk to a camera – it’s about investing effort, time and passion to enable someone who’s never been asked her opinion to tell her story.”