A man carrying banana leaves near the edge of water with a women and a boat in the background

Dispatch from UNDP in Fiji: Chelsea Sidloski’s second blog from the virtual field

Photo credit: UNDP Capture-Gender Division

By: Chelsea Sidloski, MIPP

Hello! My name is Chelsea Sidloski, and this is my second blog post about working remotely as a Junior Professional Consultant (JPC) in the UNDP Gender Department at the Pacific Office based out of Suva, Fiji. With having gained experience in a number of projects over the last few months, I am becoming more confident in my role, but still coming across new learnings each day!

With gender-based harassment and violence remaining a serious issue across the pacific, our office has decided to make sure that our own staff and policies are representative of the work we do. This week, one of my tasks alongside my fellow BSIA colleague Mackenzie White, has been to highlight current policies and strategies that our office has implemented to advocate and work towards gender equality among our staff. We have also been tasked to brainstorm new methods that can act as entry points for staff members in the Fiji office to create awareness. Some of these initiatives have included: inclusive sporting events, the creation of a gender focal committee, engaging male allies in the office to be agents of change in gender equality, and encouraging the use of more gender sensitive language within office communications. The hope is that these initiatives would also provide accountability within the office and extend into the local Suva community as well.

We have also continued to review a variety of UN evaluation reports and studies completed across the Pacific Islands. This process has been very interesting, as I have been able to pick up on certain trends that work (or don’t work) within UN development projects in particular countries. I always find that we can learn just as much (or more) from the projects that failed verses the ones that succeeded.

A large portion of our work also includes advocacy for local communities, UN staff, and government stakeholders. Alongside the communications team, my colleague Mackenzie White and I have been working to support in the creation of policy, advocacy, and educational materials. Within this work, we have noticed the importance of being able to cater the language used when advocating to different groups of people whether it be local community members, government officials, or other departments within the UNDP.

Overall, these last few months as a Junior Professional Consultant has been a fulfilling and very informative experience. Although I am still working remotely, I have been surprised by the amount of experience I have been able to gain and the relationships I have been able to develop. I look forward to collaborating with more of the various departments within the
Pacific Office and gaining more knowledge in the areas of gender transformative and gender mainstreaming programming in the Pacific. Working towards the UNDP signature solutions is exciting, rewarding, and important work! I would like to extend a huge appreciation to the Balsillie School of International Affairs as well as the United Nations Association of Canada for
making this experience possible!

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