Local women lead Fiji Cyclone Yasa response

ActionAid Australia is supporting local women’s rights and disability organisations to lead a coordinated response to category 5 Tropical Cyclone Yasa which hit Fiji last night. 


Six women leaders from the three Fijian member organisations of the Shifting the Power Coalition – FemLINKPacific, Fiji Disabled People’s Federation (FDPF) and Transcend Oceania – are leading the emergency response team already on the ground. 

ActionAid Australia’s Executive Director, Michelle Higelin said protection of women’s rights must be central to the cyclone response to avoid a deepening of gender inequality and poverty. 

“Violence against women and girls increases during humanitarian crises. Women’s protection and leadership must be central to response plans and it is vital that women and girls have access to hygiene supplies and safe shelter,” she said. 

Partners under the Shifting the Power Coalition are mobilising quickly to carry out a rapid needs assessment across the Central, Western and Northern Divisions of Fiji. 

Through the Coalition we take an intersectional feminist approach that is aiming to focus on the specific priorities of some of the most vulnerable and excluded groups, including women with disabilities, LGBTQI communities and rural women,” said Sharon Bhagwan Rolls who is heading up the allwomen emergency response team as Technical Advisor to the Shifting the Power Coalition. 

Initial reports from women on the ground suggest that the destructive force of the winds is nothing like we experienced during Cyclone Winston and that there is widespread damage,” said Bhagwan Rolls. 

The emergency response team will provide targeted emergency relief – including food, water, hygiene kits and non-food items – to 225 households, including emergency care packages to 50 women with disabilities through FDPF’s Emergency Operations Centre. 

Additional funding is needed to scale up emergency relief to affected communities as well as resource women to lead community-based protection responses to reduce and respond to threats to their safety and dignity.  

Ms Bhagwan Rolls said longer term livelihood recovery support will also be needed as many households seek to rebuild post-COVID-19 and TC Yasa. 

Communities hit by TC Yasa are still struggling with the economic impacts of COVID-19. We urgently need to support people to rebuild their livelihoods, and women must be a priority to avoid a deepening of gender inequality and poverty,” she said. 

ActionAid Australia has launched an emergency appeal to support the TC Yasa response at: www.actionaid.org.au/cycloneyasa. 

For interviews and images, please contact Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, Shifting the Power Coalition’s Technical AdvisorSharon is on the ground in Fiji and will be travelling to cyclone affected areas. 

Mobile: +679 749 7169
Mobile: +679 924 4871
Email: [email protected] 


Notes to editors 

Shifting the Power Coalition formed in 2016 following Tropical Cyclones Pam and Winston. It focuses on strengthening women’s capacity to engage in policy and decision making, driving evidence-based and women-led innovations from the region, as well as engaging in national and regional advocacy.  

The Coalition is made up of 13 women-led civil society organisations that represent diverse groups of Pacific women including women with disabilities, young women, rural women and LGBTQI communities. It is the only regional alliance focused on strengthening the collective power, influence and leadership of diverse Pacific women in responding to disasters and climate change. 

Shifting the Power Coalition is supported by ActionAid Australia and the Australian Government. 

Web: https://actionaid.org.au/programs/shifting-the-power-coalition/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shiftingthepowercoalition