Address at the Sending Off Ceremony for the MUN Club on the 11th November 2018.
Fiji National University Campus, LAUTOKA

• Distinguished guests
• Fiji National University Professors and Staff
• Members of the Model United Nations Club
• Students
• Ladies and Gentlemen

Bula vinaka, Namaste, Salaam Aleikum and Good Morning to you all.

It is indeed a privilege for me to be here this morning to send off our young women who will be participating in the Model United Nation conference in Washington DC, United States of America.

I am very pleased at the establishment of the Model United Nation Club which will undoubtedly provide our youth participants with knowledge and understanding about the United Nations and global affairs.

I would like to take this time to recognize the fantastic team of individuals who made this club a reality.
First and foremost to the team at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, particularly our Divisional Manager West Mr. Valami Naloga, our Peace Corps Volunteers and our entire team in the West for your momentous support.

To the team at FNU, Professors Unaisi Baba, Varanisese Tagimaucia, Vasemaca Alifereti, and Vidya Singh, thank you for supporting the Ministry’s initiative.

I would also like to thank and recognise the contribution and assistance of our colleagues from the Peace CorpsSarah Conklin and Blake Dohrn who have been instrumental in supporting our 9 young women as they prepare for the MUN conference this month.
My Ministry strongly believes in preparing young leaders to understand their roles in different areas of life proactively.

This work by the Ministry coincidentally resembles the educational simulation of the MUN which involves and teaches participants speaking, debating, and writing skills, in addition to critical thinking, teamwork, and leadership abilities. This engages students and allows them to develop deeper understanding of current affairs.

Furthermore Model UN builds confidence, leadership and diplomatic skills. It is an exercise in research, public speaking, and teamwork. These are skills that you will need throughout your career, and MUN gives you a chance to practice them while you are a student.

Ladies and Gentlemen, for the last 7 months these young women have been trained vigorously to compete in an international conference simulating a real-life United Nations assembly.

This training, I trust, has empowered you to develop your debates, negotiations and public-speaking capabilities and provided essential diplomatic values.

The true demonstration of your effectiveness as youth leaders will be the practical things you get done and the positive tangible things that you achieve through your experience in Washington and the conferences you may attend later in life.

Many of us here today may be wondering why the team is comprised only of women.

This, Ladies and Gentlemen, was an intentional decision in which we shared a similar goal to increase female empowerment programs in both of our respective institutions.

We agreed that creating programs exclusively for women to become future leaders on the National and Global scene was an important part of our mission in starting this club.

Historically however, gendered norms, behaviours and social relations have played a big part in disadvantaging women generally.

Model United Nations provides a space exclusively for women to break traditional boundaries of leadership and to explore the power of their own voices to cause positive change in the world.

To the young ladies, you are the new vanguard in our quest to have youth, especially women of all ages, take your rightful place in our country’s affairs.

Become agents of change, become people who do things, change the paradigm, make your communities better and ultimately you will make Fiji better.

I hope the training, which you have been receiving and the experience you will bring back from the United States will enable you to establish cohesive relationship and cohesive groups to foster cohesive communities and thus a truly cohesive society in our country.

Your Government and the Ministry of Youth and Sports is unequivocally and resolutely committed to the establishment of a cohesive society.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we the Ministry of Youth and Sports have a strong belief that youths can bring about positive social change.

Our Ministry has continued to support new and existing youth groups and recognised the need to inculcate leadership skills along with other organisational skills among youths if we are to achieve a vibrant and a dynamic youth sector.

We have also provided an opportunity to youths from all divisions to voice their opinions on the national youth policy review which will reflect issues that concern our youth.

This is an opportunity provided to our youths to be part of something great, to have a voice in the decision making process and most importantly to make a difference through your positive contributions.

To the young ladies, may you all have wonderful experience at the MUN Conference in Washington DC.

You are undoubtedly ambassadors of our nation. Promote the values of our proud country. Behave in a way which brings pride to the nation; build networks, make new friends and most of all enjoy your time together.

On behalf of the Fijian Government and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, I extend our blessings and wish you well during the 5 days you will be spending at the Model United Nations Conference.

I would like to leave you with the words of American sports caster Ernie Harwell and I quote “It’s time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad and I’d much rather say hello. Hello to a new adventure” unquote.

Vinaka vakalevu, Dhanyabad, Shokran and thank you all.