Community Engagement Project- Fiji Elections 2022
In August of 2022, the University of the South Pacific Students’ Association (USPSA) of the University of the South Pacific (USP) began partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji for the “Community Engagement Project” (Your Vote Matters) with aims to conduct sessions to increase voter awareness, voter education trainings/activities on election day processes and procedures and more importantly to promote greater participation in elections through engagement.
Youths of Fiji were key targets for these workshops, (particularly young women voters) given that during the previous election (2018) youth voter turnout made up the lowest percentage of any age. In Fiji, youths make up over 60% of the population. To further engage and promote youths to partake in the 2022 Fijian General Elections, the “the Community Engagement Project” created social media campaigns to target more student and youth engagement.
In addition to the social media campaign, the USPSA projects team implemented 3 “Your Vote Matters” workshops and an Intergenerational Talanoa Session.
The workshops were conducted over the course of 3 months in the Northern, Western and Central division(s) of Fiji that engaged over 500 youths (Face-to face) while the social media campaign reached over 400,000 people across Fiji.
The objective of the ‘Your Vote Matters’ project was aimed at scaling up the efforts around the ‘Know Your Election’ campaign of Fijian Elections Office [‘FEO’] under the United Nations Development Programme [‘UNDP’] to promote greater participation in elections through engagement. The project was carried out to encourage the building of productive relationships with civil society organizations and others in voter education.
The aims that were identified for discussion, interaction and knowledge sharing (intergenerational) were the following:
- Increasing the visibility of the campaign and engaging more women and youths in the process.
- To facilitate more dialogue and knowledge sharing around elections in Fiji;
- Carrying out activities that link basic human rights and voting rights;
- Examining the roles, responsibilities and rights of voters;
- The consequences of not voting;
- The relationship between elections and a representative government;
- The importance of each vote and its impact on public accountability;
- Promote voter motivation and ability to make informed choices.
The Social Media Campaign
As part of the “Your Vote Matters” project, the use of Social Media to target and engage youths and Fijian voters played a vital role. A series of short videos were released whereby youths, particularly women were interviewed as they gave their point of view on what transparency, accountability, good governance, right to vote, etc. These videos highly aided in creating nation-wide visibility for the workshop series.
Seeing that the majority of the target audience for this workshop series were youths who made up for the largest numbers of social media users in the country, all details pertaining to the workshop series was timely updated, from next date(s), registration details, the topics of discussion, agenda for the workshop(s), etc.
The comments section for the posts regarding the workshops, projects were subject to matters of discussion as youths from Fiji and even across the region, called out for Voter awareness sessions and workshops to commence in their respective nations.