Over 100 students from the Northern Division in Fiji participated in the ‘Your Vote Matters’ workshop at The University of the South Pacific (USP) Labasa Campus last Friday 9 September 2022. This was the first interactive workshop under this project while the social media campaign remains active.
The ‘Your Vote Matters’ Project which started in August 2022 is part of the Fijian Elections Office (FEO) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji ‘Community Engagement Project’ to promote greater participation in elections through engagement.
The USP Students Association Secretary General, Mr Emosi Vakarua while welcoming everyone to the workshop said that, “As you may have noted that the USP Students Association Federal is implementing this project, we could not be prouder and more excited to do so as projects like this go to the heart of our core business, which is engagement with our students and providing opportunities for aspirational leaders to respond to unique Pacific challenges that are innovative, relevant and appropriate.”
Mr Lepani Naqarase, member of the USP Council and Vice-President of the USP Students Association as the guest of honour told students and youths, “We must ensure that we do not take for granted the rights accorded to us when we engage and participate in the process, we can then feel a sense of ownership towards that process.”
During the first session of the day, the Know Your Election (KYE) presentation was conducted by the project team which among other things informed those attending about the procedures related to election day and voting.
“The workshop today was an eye-opener for me as a first-time voter, I had many concerns and questions. After this workshop, I can confidently say that I am excited to exercise my right to vote” said Ms Makirina Dirogorogo who travelled from Savusavu with a group of youths.
Over 65% were women participants and over 85% of those attending are first-time voters. The second workshop will be held at USP Lautoka Campus later this month.
Ms Leti Maria who studies at USP Labasa Campus, while reflecting on the day-long workshop said, “My one vote matters because it is my constitutional right and I have been empowered today about this right. I have more trust in the election process than ever thanks to today’s workshop.”
The workshop included a series of group activities and an interactive talanoa session via a youth roundtable. It concluded with remarks from Ms Dharshni Rao on the empowerment of women and the importance of voting.