Fidschi: Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls

The main objective of femLINKpacific is to bring the stories of our women and their communities to the forefront, to help promote peace and reconciliation in multi-ethnic Fiji.

— Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls

Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls (38) gained national prominence in Fiji by organizing, through the National Council of Women, a daily prayer vigil when government leaders were held hostage for 56 days during the 2000 coup. She now produces the monthly e-news bulletin "FemLINKpacific," originally to give voice to women affected by the coup and a quarterly magazine "femTALK 1325" covering women's peace initiatives and post-conflict needs in the region and advocating for UN Security Council Resolution 1325 implementation. She also runs FemTALK 89.2FM, a monthly mobile women's community radio service.

"When I was trying to leave Fiji in August 1987 to attend the YWCA World Council meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, I was detained by police at the airport. Later, a Fijian woman from Namoli Village who was a domestic worker for my parents, apologized to my parents for having inadvertently provided information about my travel plans to a man who had come to drink yagona at her village the night before. The incident illustrated how women's networks can be used. I have come to appreciate the importance of women's networks in early warning systems for conflict prevention. Women are sources of information around peace and security matters. They are often asked for information about other women in their networks and it is important that they develop safe forms of communication with one another. Women have so many women's groups and clubs. We can use our own networks to get word out and to be able to secure ourselves, and to give counseling and support in situations of violence or conflict. I began to think a lot about how women could use their networks to do conflict prevention work, and whether we could use community radio as a conduit for that, for teaching that."

Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) National Council of Women (NCW)