Fijian activist Komal Kumar has received the 2022 Simone Veil Prize for Gender Equality.
Kumar is a strong advocate in climate change, ethics, feminism and politics, and was selected for the Prize by the French Embassy in Fiji in March last year.
Kumar said she felt very humbled and grateful to have accepted the award in person in Paris.
“It was delightful and exciting to have met with the jury in person and getting to know more about how the selection was made, why a young woman from the Pacific was selected and sharing my plans on the utilisation of the funds. We got to talk more about the role of young women and men in reducing gender inequalities, ocean sustainability and health and the upcoming COP28 engagements and priorities,” Kumar shared.
“The major highlights of my trip was of course receiving the award in person, and bringing it home with me. The cultural tour around Paris visiting the many museums and Versailles Castle and getting to know more about the French history was a great learning experience. I also had the opportunity to visit the French Senate and getting a tour of the place, as well as meeting students from the Paris Institute of International Affairs.”
She said with such opportunities also came great responsibility and that the issues of climate change and gender inequality was being experienced all around the world and there were so many actors who had great roles in ensuring that women and youths were motivated to do more about this.
“It is very crucial that we empower and involve more women, not just women but both young women and men so we are able to break the gender norms and discrimination. Gender inequality cannot be broken by women alone but by making sure that we are able to change the mindset of women and men alike,” says Kumar.
“At present, what we see is that the leadership spaces within the space of climate change is mostly occupied by male leaders. We need more support and resources to be able to influence and motivate women, so they as involved in this space not just at an advocacy level but at the leadership level as well.”
French Ambassador to Fiji, François-Xavier Léger said that the prize was awarded each year on International Women’s Day with the intent to draw attention to efforts in promoting women’s autonomy, education and participation in leadership roles.
“It is part of a global policy of feminist diplomacy chosen by the French President to promote promising projects led by women throughout the world. Unfortunately, Komal could not travel to receive her award last year but we are very happy that she managed to do so this year. This is also a testament to her dedication and hard work in this sphere”, Léger said.