All Struggles Are Connected: Diverse Voices and Action for Equality

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Clockwise from top left: DIVA’s Shirley Tagi (Board volunteer), Frances Tawake, Tamani Rarama, Viva Tatawaqa, Penina Tusoya and Noelene Nabulivou.
March 18, 2024

by Cindy del Rosario-Tapan, former Director of Communications

This International Women’s Month, we spotlight the intersectional Fijian movement making waves in the Pacific, and beyond.

“When I help a woman, I make a community better.” So said Viva Tatawaqa, Political Coordinator of Diverse Voices and Action for Equality (DIVA) when Thousand Currents’ Asia and the Pacific team visited DIVA last year. During that trip, we were given a firsthand glimpse of the palpable joy that comes with DIVA’s longstanding commitment to principles that are “feminist, embodied, intersectional, and interlinked.”

Founded in 2011 after observing that LGBTQ+ women who played sports were often mistreated because of their sexual orientation, DIVA’s expansive reach now includes a 600-member network through their grassroots collectives: Women Defend the Commons initiative, the 10-country Pacific Feminist Community of Practice, a women builders network, and a substantive advocacy presence at places like the Commission on the Status of Women, among others.

Creating a Safe Space

DIVA’s issue areas are planted in the garden outside their D-Hive.

Located in Nadi, DIVA’s D-Hive is both an office and a gathering place for LGBTQ+ community members. The center embodies collective care, with DIVA providing internet access, resources like interview clothes, and other forms of integral support. It is here that we witnessed DIVA’s practice in action: that small victories matter even while working toward long-term change, and that in caring for each other, they also care for the world.

“If we can help a woman by creating a space where they can just come and talk about the issues, talk about not just their pain and struggles but also about joy and liberation,” said Viva, “we see dreams of how to see a better world, a better family for themselves, and a better life.”

Working for Liberation, Balance, and Justice

Timaima Tamoi, a member of DIVA’s management collective.

Grounded in the interconnection among social, economic, ecological, and environmental issues, DIVA has a multipronged approach to “create an ecosystem of care, action, and influence.”

In short, DIVA does it all. Their five current workstreams span human rights; connections between gender, economic, and ecological justice; feminist activism; urgent action; and organizational sustainability. In addition to holistic community care, DIVA advocates for policy change in multilateral spaces, from the bottom up. They fight for their seat at the table, earn leadership roles at said table, and then embrace the lengthy work to take action based on the ensuing discussions.

They also know when to pick and choose their battles, and how to advocate for the greater good in policy spaces. Case in point: Loss and damage, a term—often used in international policy spaces—refers to efforts to minimize the irreversible damaging effects of climate change on vulnerable countries. Thanks to DIVA and other allied movements’ tireless efforts spanning a decade, a historic loss and damage fund was established to support vulnerable countries.

New Stories from Fijian Women: Poverty to Power

Viva Tatawaqa explaining DIVA’s work to the Thousand Currents team.

Recently, DIVA just released a groundbreaking publication called Gender, Poverty and Economic Justice in Fiji. The 72-page booklet captures the stories of 23 Fijian women and gender-diverse individuals, showing intergenerational experiences of oppression, discrimination, and violence. It underscores the burden of unpaid care, domestic work, and communal work—disproportionately carried by women in all walks of life.

“I still have hopes for a bright future, especially for my children,” said Miliame Loco in the booklet. “I want to go back to school to continue my teaching, but at the moment I’m still just trying every day to survive.”

DIVA is determined to fight for Miliame and other women, transgender people, and nonbinary individuals. They dream of the day when everyone will have all basic human rights to enable collective dignity and conscientious wellbeing. DIVA remains relentless in their goal of ensuring that Pacific, feminist, local, Indigenous, and grassroots-led communities pave the path forward for justice.

All photography by Jason Chute

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