We Rise Coalition partners from Fiji, Tonga, Australia, Samoa, PNG and Vanuatu in a virtual meeting at the Coalition’s Planning retreat in December 2020.

The We Rise Coalition (the coalition) marked a new milestone with four new feminist partner organisations as it expands to a greater Pacific regional network.

The new partners Brown Girl Woke from Samoa, Talitha Project from Tonga, Sista from Vanuatu and Voice for Change from Papua New Guinea join femLINKpacific, the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement in the Coalition and the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA).

“Pacific women’s representation and voice has always been key to our work and it’s been incredible to see the We Rise Coalition grow to seven diverse NGOs from across the region. We’re honoured to be part of such a ground-breaking collective, where we are bringing together our strengths and resources and building a collective voice to effectively advocate and address women’s human rights issues in the Pacific,” said FWRM Executive Director Nalini Singh.

Recognising the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the Coalition partners have targeted programs to address the inequality exacerbated by the pandemic.

“2020 has been such a challenging year for Pacific feminists, and as we commence 2021, we look forward with lots of hope, persistence and determination that with our solidarity through an expanded collective of seven diverse regional organisations, we will ensure women’s voice and leadership in the response to, and recovery from, COVID,” said femLINKpacific Executive Director, Susan Grey.

“IWDA is proud to be part of the We Rise Coalition, and inspired by the work of our Pacific-based partners.” said IWDA’s CEO Bettina Baldeschi. “We can’t wait to see what we will achieve together.”

Despite the circumstances of a global pandemic, the seven partner organisations were able to convene for the first time virtually as part of the annual We Rise retreat in the first week of December.

Speaking after the retreat, Brown Girl Woke Director Doris Tulifau said the Coalition will help sustain and develop her organisation in Samoa.

“For example building partnerships with the members in the coalition to learn from and grow with. Also to learn about how each organisation has worked around gender equality and ending violence against women. I believe we don’t have to reinvent the wheel but partner and share power,” Tulifau said.

Sharing the same sentiments, Talitha Project sees the coalition as a diverse powerful tool to assist feminist organizations.

“To be part of the We Rise Coalition is something phenomenal as we are going into transition of the ‘new normal’ as a result of COVID-19 crisis. I see this coalition as diverse and powerful. Pacific women, especially young women should give ourselves permission to move into this new normal by supporting and nurturing each other’s vision, perspectives, strengths, desires, weaknesses, flaws and ideas. It is the only way we can truly RISE up,” said project director Vanessa Heleta.

Sista, a charitable organisation that uses art, media and communications to empower women and girls, is excited to partner with feminist organizations from across the Pacific to collectively build a women’s movement that is coordinated and strategic.

Executive Director Yasmine Bjornum said; “We all have something to bring to the table and I think it’s a total game changer when women come together and we are ready! Ready to talk to each other openly and honestly, ready to celebrate each other’s diversity, ready to help and support each other, ready to hold each other accountable and ready to create a new world that is inclusive of all.”

Lilly Be’Soer the director of Voice for Change a women’s human rights organisation based in the province of Jiwaka, PNG acknowledged the Coalition’s support in their work to empower and mobilise rural women to take leadership in addressing gender-based violence and increasing women’s economic empowerment.

The coalition cooperates in joint actions; joining the strengths, resources and networks of each partner in demanding that women are able to realize their full human rights, equality and justice, and creating a political force for change that cannot be ignored by families, communities, governments, or society at large.

We Rise Coalition is funded by the Australian Government.