"Firstly we would like to congratulate the Fiji Judo Association on their Gender Equity Commission work and we wish Alisi Takayawa all the best in her new role as the leader of the commission. The IJF is here to support Alisi and the federation. This workshop is a fantastic initiative in these difficult times and this is where we see just how important the judo values are with helping our community to grow and develop and to create the future we want to experience."
Seremaia Bai of the Rugby Academy Fiji (Former Flying Fijian) shared his experiences of his journey as a professional rugby player and the importance of balancing sports and education. Mr. Bai also talked about how sports can change lives through dedication and commitment.
Then Cruz Aingimea took the floor. He is a member of the Nabua Judo Club and was part of the 2019 Oceania Japan Judo Exchange programme, that was held in Ryugasaki City, Japan. Cruz participated in the judo training camp and the friendly tournament that was hosted by Ryugasaki City, in partnership with Ryutsu Keizai University. He was also able to spectate at the 2019 World Judo Championships in Tokyo. Cruz shared his experiences and the opportunities that he was fortunate enough to gain through judo. He encouraged children to take up the sport because it had taught him many life lessons and values.
The next speaker was Dr. Ane Veu, who shared her expertise on health, including many anecdotes from her personal life as a mother of 4 judo children. She explained to the participants the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and regular medical check-ups. Dr. Veu notes the support available in Fiji, aimed at helping women to maintain a healthy lifestyle. She also outlined many ways in which the community is established to offer mothers a network of like-minded individuals, to share knowledge around healthy diets, exercise, seeking medical attention and the judo value of friendship, to help each other.
Mrs. Natanya Potoi, CEO of Oceania Regional Anti Doping Organisation, talked about values and how judo has empowered a lot of children and women and elaborated on the judo values of self-control and honour.
One of the attendees explained, “Through this workshop I have learned more about judo and that its values can encourage girls and women who have been victims of abuse. They can have a platform on which to rebuild their lives and face the world, regardless of what they have gone through in life. It also taught me that there are opportunities out there. I really want to start learning judo."
Another said, “The workshop was very interesting. I really have learned a lot about gender equity and how unfair the systems here in the Pacific are or have been towards women. The speakers were inspiring and informative, as they really empowered me to become a better person."
One last participant also explained, “This event was really eye-opening and full of qualified and experienced role models. This is my first time ever attending something like this. It has really inspired me. From this event I’ve learned that gender equity and equality is so important, especially here in Fiji, as it isn’t often seen. Most Fijians stick to their traditional ways. I am very glad I attended this workshop because it has taught me a lot about judo too and participating in judo looks like a great way to embody all that we have seen here with regard to values and equity."
Lavenia Tuitabu spoke about the work the Fiji Women Crisis Centre does for women in the country, offering support to women going through traumatic experiences. She highlighted the importance of providing adequate services for women.
Fi Weleilakeba said, “The Gender Equity Workshop is very new to Fiji and I believe that we need to start educating our communities on the important role women play. This workshop will enable the conversations that we need to build a better Fiji for all."
Dr. Ravi Naidu, a member of the Nabua Judo Club and a Fiji Representative at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa, talked about Seiryoku Zenyo and Jita Kyoei, the two mottos of judo. Judo taught him about discipline and using the judo values and a growth mind-set to educate regarding the importance of gender equity and equality, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
"We really loved this workshop, one that brought our children to learn the judo values. They could feel the judo mats and witness demonstrations. This workshop has also broadened our knowledge of the Gender Equity Commission and what it represents for women. The two doctors that shared their experience with us about maintaining healthy lifestyles were very informative," said Mereseini Galu, the Nabua Community Leader.
Shanice Takayawa, 2019 Pacific Games Gold Medalist, concluded, “I would like to thank the FJA Gender Equity Commission’s Alisi Takayawa for giving me the opportunity to share my experiences with the women in attendance. Judo has impacted and moulded my life so positively and my journey as a Fijian athlete has been enhanced in so many ways. I hope that sharing my experiences with you will encourage more women to rise above the challenges of daily life. The first thing we learn in judo is how to fall (ukemi). I have been thrown many, many times, lost many fights and experienced many failures. I lost so much, that I thought my purpose in life was to lose. Through the judo values I have found a way to overcome my failures. Judo has taught me resilience and to keep getting back up and keep striving to be better than yesterday."