"In the Pacific region, women have been greatly marginalized from formal decision making structures as a result of the predominantly patriarchal governance structures from the time of colonial administrations and continuing after independence. Yet, despite such obstacles, in Bougainville and the Solomon Islands, as well as Fiji, women were instrumental in brokering peace during the height of crises and continue to play a vital role in building and sustaining peace in their communities."
Biography of Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls, Coordinator, femLINKpacific, Fiji Pacific Islands
Ms. Sharon Bhagwan Rolls is a Fiji Islander. A women’s media advocate, she became a media professional in 1986, starting out in radio, and has since worked in the broadcast industry in Fiji, working her way up the ranks from on-air presentation to award-winning copywriter to station management level. She is a proficient technical producer, which today lends itself to the development and production of femLINKpacific’s community videos.
By the end of 1999, Ms. Bhagwan Rolls decided to leave mainstream media and dedicate herself once again to the women’s movement. In April 2000, she was elected to the volunteer position of Secretary of the National Council of Women in Fiji, and it was in this position that she served as the Coordinator of the Blue Ribbon Peace Vigil when Fiji faced its second political coup. Ms. Bhagwan Rolls also has worked to strengthen women’s participation in decision-making structures, especially by initiating women in media training programs through the National Council of Women.
It was during the “Blue Ribbon Peace Vigil” that she co-founded femLINKpacific, a women’s media NGO. The key motivation to establish femLINKpacific was to increase the visibility of gender issues and women’s stories within the context of the crisis and to ensure conflict prevention by developing, producing and distributing community media initiatives. femLINKpacific works with a cross section of women and community groups, especially those who are volunteer-based and lack the resources to document and produce media content.
Since September 2000, despite its small operations and limited funding, femLINKpacific has been recognised as an important source of information and communications among women and NGOs in the Pacific.
As Coordinator of femLINKpacific, Ms. Bhagwan Rolls has developed a range of women’s media initiatives which now cover local, national and regional perspectives including: a monthly ENews bulletin; the introduction of Fiji and the Pacific’s first mobile women’s community radio initiative: femTALK 89.2FM; fem’TALK 1325, a quarterly Pacific regional women and peace community magazine that aims to provide media space for women and peace initiatives in the Pacific region as well as increase awareness of the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, titled “Women, Peace and Security”; and fem’TALK Community Videos, which are produced to highlight and support the important role of women’s civil society groups and NGOs who work tirelessly to advance the status of women and girls. In 2003 femLINKpacific received the Fiji Human Rights Commission “TV award” for the community video “fem’TALK Balancing the Scales.”
She is committed to the empowerment of and inclusion of young women in decision making, and continues to build upon the interest and skills of young women in the community through the project work of femLINKpacific.
Ms. Bhagwan Rolls was a member of the Fiji Government delegation to the UN Fourth World Conference on Women, where she also filed news reports for Fiji Television. In 2002, she was appointed by the UN Division for the Advancement of Women to the November 2002 expert group meeting on women and media. At the recent Commission on the Status of Women meeting at the United Nations, Ms. Bhagwan Rolls was an active member of the Women’s Media Caucus, providing comprehensive reports to Pacific and international contacts on a wide range of issues.
Following a number of women’s media assignments facilitated through the UNIFEM Pacific Women, Peace and Security in Melanesia, Ms. Bhagwan Rolls has worked with her counterparts in Bougainville, Solomon Islands and Tonga to establish a regional women’s media network on women, peace and human security. She has presented numerous papers and conducted training on a range of issues and has documented women’s participation in peace processes and decision making in Bougainville, Solomon Islands and Fiji. She continues to assist and facilitate the staging of the monthly peace vigils in Suva, Fiji Islands.
In 2006 Bhagwan Rolls was a Co-Facilitator with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS). She is presently the Women’s International focal point for the Pacific region for AMARC (the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters) and Vice President for the Pacific on AMARC’s Asia-Pacific Board. She has served in numerous other positions, and is also a member of the Fiji YWCA, the Poor Relief Society and has been a programme advisor to the Peace Programme of the Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education and Advocacy (ECREA). She is a network member of Inclusive Security: Women Waging Peace and a regular contributor to the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, which works toward the full implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325. She has recently resumed her role as convener of the Women’s Action for Democracy and Peace standing committee of the National Council of Women Fiji.
In June 2005, Sharon Bhagwan Rolls was included in the list of Pacific women in the 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005 initiative. She continues to lend her support and skills to a range of local charitable events.
Contact Sharon Bhagwan Rolls
Security Council Resolution 1325: National Implementation of Women, Peace and Security - Ways Forward
Presented by: Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls, Coordinator, femLINKpacific, Fiji Pacific Islands