This LGBT, feminism and human rights activist from Fiji is a legend for young social fighters

Fijian human rights activist Noelene Nabulivou is a determined voice of disenfranchised women and people. As a brave, openly lesbian Pacific woman in a region where the LGBTI+ community continues to face discrimination, she works for justice for all Pacific islanders. Noelene is known for the political care, sharpness and passion of her work.

“I love being a Pacific islander. We are funny, fierce and strategic. We face colonial and post-colonial globalised realities, and try to keep what is best about us. However, our under-examined and unfair patriarchal systems stop many Pacific people of all genders from achieving our dreams” explains Noelene Nabulivou.

As the political advisor for Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for Equality, an organisation she founded with others in 2011, Noelene is part of a collective effort to ensure justice for all Pacific women, including those deprived of socio-economic benefits due to their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sexual characteristics, socio-economic status, location, disabilities, ethnicity, and more. She works with diverse Pacific women and local communities, in coalitions and social movements, and with governments, UN and development agencies.

Noelene is respected within the Pacific feminist, LGBTI and other social movements, and the development sector because of her transformative work – sharing knowledge, building strategies, bringing positive change and defending universal human rights.

Over the years, Noelene has served as a mentor to many activists and feminists in Fiji and the Pacific. “She freely shares her knowledge, and creates ripples of movement building both within her organisation and outside of it,” says Lavetanalagi Seru, Co-Coordinator of Project Survival Pacific, a youth led climate change and sustainable development organisation that has benefited from Noelene’s mentoring.

“People often think that because you’re a lesbian, the only ‘issues’ you should speak on are those related to LGBTIQ people. They’re wrong. That’s similar to when you’re a woman, and men think that the only things that are your concern are so-called ‘women’s issues’. There’s no such thing. Everyone is our concern, and everything is connected. Our separation is an illusion. If one is still not free, then none of us are truly free, as we say in the feminist movement.”

This portrait of Noelene Nabulivou was first published by the Pacific Community for the 70 Inspiring Women campaign, it is reproduced here (with some modifications of our own) with their permission.

The 70 Inspiring Pacific Women campaign has been produced by the Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with Australian Aid and Pacific Women. The campaign marks the 70th anniversary of SPC, and leads up to the 13th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and 6th Meeting of Ministers for Women in Suva (Fiji) from 2nd to 5th October 2017.

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