Pacific’s premier magazine Islands Business has named long-time women’s rights campaigner and political rights activist Shamima Ali of Fiji as its 2011 Pacific Person of the Year.

For the courage to take on Fiji and the Pacific’s mainly patriarchal society and systems, for her determination and battle to put women’s rights on the agenda of every political leader, for the tenacity and sheer stubbornness to take the fight right into the pulse of male-dominated institutions in the military and the police force, all the time never losing her common and compassionate touch for the abused, the poor and the downtrodden, Shamima Ali is Islands Business 2011 Pacific Person of the Year,” the magazine said in its December edition which has just hit the news-stand around the Pacific.

Twenty-six years of struggle aimed at breaking down a male-dominated and biased society and its varied systems
does seem to bring its fair share of lonely moments,” says the magazine cover article, authored by Fiji-based freelance
journalist, Samisoni Pareti.

“She has to put up with name-calling and threats of violence directed at her and her family. Invitation to weddings of family and friends had dried up as she was deemed a “bad omen” to marital alliances. So-called friends turned their backs on her. But Ali pressed on regardless.”

This latest achievement adds onto a growing series of awards Ms Ali had won due to her work on women and human rights. Last year Amnesty International New Zealand gave her its inaugural Human Rights Defender Award. She was also named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation, and in 2007 was awarded the American Government’s ‘Women of Courage’ Award. She was also named one of Fiji’s 100 most influential men and women in the book ‘20th Century Fiji.’

Ms Ali is currently Coordinator of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, and is also the last lawfully appointed Fiji Human Rights Commissioner. She now joins a long list of illustrious influential Pacific women, men and institutions that have graced Islands Business’ traditional December Pacific Person of the Year cover.

Others included Fiji’s founding Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, Tonga’s pro-democracy campaigner ‘Akilisi Pohiva, New Caledonian pro-independence fighter, the late Jean-Marie Tjibaou, Prime Minister John Howard of Australia and Dame Carol Kidu of Papua New



09 DECEMBER 2011

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