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Litia Nailatikau

Litia Nailatikau’s journey is one of resilience, empowerment, and breaking barriers in the realms of conservation, peacebuilding, and gender equality. With her dedication and passion, she has played a pivotal role in transforming the landscape of decision-making, advocating for women’s rights, and fostering sustainable change within Pacific communities.

Litia’s motivation sprang from her intimate observation of cultural norms and the persistent lack of recognition for women’s contributions within her own family. While women subtly influenced the decision-making process, it was often the male voices that garnered attention and accolades. Litia recognized this disparity as early on and felt the need to challenge this unjust practice.

Reflecting on her experiences, Litia said, “Within my own space, I come from a family that has influenced policy quite a bit in the past. So, it was funny because the cultural sensitivities we have, I noticed that women always sort of influenced the decision-making, but they were never recognized for it. And the men would always be given the space to speak because it sounded better coming from the men’s work, because it would be known that it would be accepted if it came from men. And the men would say it and it’d be brilliant, and it’d be accepted. But the ideas came from the women in the family.”

Litia’s organization embarked on a transformative journey by integrating a gender-focused approach across all its global departments and policies. This strategy aimed to recognize and address the intricate gender dynamics embedded within Pacific culture, which might not be fully understood by overseas offices in cities like London and Melbourne. An essential facet of Litia’s work was unveiling and tackling issues of masculinity that were deeply ingrained within Pacific cultural and political spheres. These issues had a profound impact on women’s progress and leadership roles.

Through her consultancy work with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Litia uncovered a remarkable reality: many agricultural initiatives in Fiji were spearheaded by women, particularly in rural areas and parts of Nadi. Even in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, these initiatives endured, powered by women’s holistic, community-oriented approaches. These initiatives not only fortified the agricultural sector but also tackled the broader issue of food security.

Litia underscored the significance of multi-sectoral and grassroots government approaches. Yet, she acknowledged the challenges of maintaining these practices and ensuring consistent, formal enforcement, especially during times of crisis or political transitions. Litia’s insight illuminated the need for sustainable mechanisms to promote and uphold the multi-sectoral approach across different governmental departments.

Litia Nailatikau’s journey encapsulates a narrative of resilience, empowerment, and determination. Through her work, she has become instrumental in reshaping the Pacific’s socio-cultural fabric, challenging norms, and ensuring that women’s voices are not just heard, but acknowledged and valued.