Students and staff at The University of the South Pacific (USP) Laucala Campus marched through the University yesterday to mark International Women’s Day.
Head of Foundation Studies and Association of The University of the South Pacific Staff (AUSPS) Women’s Wing Chair Rosalia Fatiaki said that many were celebrating to empower others and continue to fight so that organisations, including the university, could genuinely embrace equity.
“Every year, we celebrate IWD with speeches, but to me, it is all hot air. There are speeches, but the University is not committed to embracing women working at USP. I particularly reference the senior management team (SMT) at the University. Our leadership at the top is very lopsided, and we have only one woman sitting in SMT, not only that, the academics in the institution. Women are on the lower end of the ladder, so when we talk equity, we want to see it in action.”
“Where are the women? What support system does the University have in place to put the women there, to support women to get to the next level? So that’s why we think it’s appropriate to make it known in a space like this. We bring the women together, we march, we demand that changes be made to the structures within the University so that we can see the real change and no more lip service,” Ms Faitaki said.
“The march has seen many female students also come out to celebrate International Women’s Day; they are also an important stakeholder of the University. They need to be well-versed in issues they may be facing and be able to talk about them. I am thrilled to see the students come along with us to celebrate and voice our concerns.”
USP staff union president Tarisi Vacala echoed similar sentiments and said, “Let’s talk about what strategies we are going to have, what plans do we have for the women working at USP to bring them to the next level. What support system is there? These are the things that we are so passionate about, we want to bring that to life, and we want to hold the University accountable to its staff and see some real action and a plan of how this is going to happen.”
“I know we all want to embrace equity at all levels; I want to see it in practice; this is a fight, not just now, it has been going on, and it is preached everywhere, but the practice needs to happen, and the leaders need to commit to the agenda and make it happen.”
Students and staff marched from the USP gymnasium to the ICT Centre and discussed what embracing equity means in this day and age.