Rise Beyond the Reef: Empowering indigenous women in Fiji

Rise beyond the Reef Fijian women weaving.

Rise Beyond the Reef: Empowering indigenous women in Fiji

In the heart of the Pacific, where the ocean’s embrace meets the resilient spirits of indigenous communities, a beacon of change exists – Rise Beyond the Reef.

Rise Beyond the Reef emerges as a transformative force in Fiji, empowering rural remote indigenous women. With its four-fold mission, this program fosters economic resilience and preserves and promotes traditional arts and crafts skills in the face of a changing world.

Empowering women, nurturing tradition

At the core of Rise Beyond the Reef’s mission is the uplifting of rural indigenous women and their families. By intricately blending ecologically, culturally and socially conscious handmade goods with climate-smart agricultural approaches, the organisation is crafting a sustainable pathway for Pasifika women. These women, often the torchbearers of tradition, are preserving their ancestral homes and amplifying their voices in the face of the climate crisis.

The program extends its impact beyond the immediate vicinity, aiming to develop regional and international markets for these crafted treasures. In doing so, it becomes a vehicle for economic upliftment and a conduit for preserving and promoting traditional arts and crafts skills. Kioa Island and Rotuma, with their unique cultural tapestries, find representation in the global marketplace through the skilled hands of indigenous women.

Through this program, men and women are rewriting community narratives. Rise Beyond the Reef is not merely an organisation; it is a movement reshaping the roles of individuals within communities. The untouched habitats of these regions hold not just minerals and raw materials but stories, wisdom and an untapped well of creativity waiting to flourish.

“If women have an equal voice that’s heard and respected in their communities if their experiences and insights are valued, and if children’s rights are protected, then the entire community will rise.”

rise beyond the reef women at work

Creating economies of hope

Luxury and poverty coexist on many South Pacific islands, but Rise Beyond the Reef envisions a different future. Their mission is to help the poor and create value around the vital role remote communities play in the world’s collective narrative.

By cultivating leadership, supporting traditional knowledge, and creating sustainable economic pathways, the organisation aims for a future where all rise together.

As an Economic & Leadership development program, Rise Beyond the Reef adheres to fair trade principles. From long-term direct trading relationships to investment in community development projects, the organisation ensures that every step aligns with ethical operating practices.

The intricate pricing model Rise Beyond the Reef adopted ensures that artisans receive fair compensation. With a commitment to paying fair prices, no exploited labour and sustainable practices, the project is not just selling products; it’s fostering a holistic approach to community development.

The climate crisis and the unheard voices

Women make up half the planet’s population, but when it comes to the global debate on climate change, their voices of women are often lost.

Rise Beyond the Reef acknowledges this oversight and believes that involving women, especially indigenous women, is pivotal in tackling the climate crisis. Their knowledge and expertise, honed through years of environmental conservation, are invaluable assets in building resilience and curbing emissions.

The organisation’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond empowering women; it delves into the very fabric of climate action. Rise Beyond the Reef’s product line, featuring sustainable, eco-friendly and reusable items, is a testament to their dedication to the planet’s well-being.

Pacific Islands facing an uncertain future

With their unique challenges, the Pacific Islands house more than 4 million people across hundreds of islands. Fiji, the largest among them, grapples with economic challenges and vulnerability to climate change.

Often referred to as the “canaries in the mine” of climate change, they stand at a critical juncture. The dual impacts of capitalism and climate change challenge traditional knowledge, and remote communities find themselves on the periphery of local and global economies.

Rise Beyond the Reef steps into this gap, bridging the divide between the world’s economic leaders and the guardians of these islands’ rich biodiversity.

rise beyond the reef women in Fiji weaving

From disaster relief to resilience

The value of empowering women and girls echoes through the lessons learned in recent decades.

Reflecting on the aftermath of Cyclone Winston, Rise Beyond the Reef identified a unique opportunity lying within the salvageable debris scattered along the Nakorotubu Coast.

While traditional relief efforts focus on emergency provisions, the organisation envisions sustainable income generation. Coastal villages, heavily reliant on coconuts, fish and seasonal fruit sales, face prolonged impacts on their income sources post-cyclone.

A sustainable approach was created to deal with the aftermath and lay a foundation for future natural disaster responses:

Salvaging from Logging Sites: Benefiting landowners and providing an environmentally conscious approach to debris harvest.

Coconut Debris from Copra Industry: Tapping into the Copra industry’s debris for both economic gain and environmental sustainability.

Sugar Cane Debris from Post-Harvest: Exploring the potential of salvaging debris from sugar cane post-harvest, contributing to income generation.

Be a part of the change

As we delve into the intricate layers of Rise Beyond the Reef’s initiatives, we invite you to participate in this transformative journey.

Your support can be the catalyst for empowering indigenous women, preserving traditions and fostering sustainable agriculture.

Purchase handmade treasures, engage with the stories behind each craft and contribute to the resilience of communities in Fiji.

Immago has been deeply intertwined with the wonderful people of Fiji for many years now. Our success is partly down to their hard-working, loyal and friendly people.

Contact us today if you would like to know more about the Rise Beyond the Reef project or how you can help.