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Fiji’s Girl Boss Rev­o­lu­tion

If you could travel back to seven years from to­day, what ad­vice would you give to your­self?

To eat less choco­late be­cause I now have to suf­fer at the gym! But on a se­ri­ous note I would per­haps re­mind my­self to live fear­lessly and not take ad­van­tage of the fact that to­mor­row is an­other day, but to work hard, love and live in the task of end­ing a day on a high note.

GIRL­BOSS: ELISHA BANO, FOUNDER & CO­OR­DI­NA­TOR OF ACT:FIJI If we read the back cover of your bi­og­ra­phy one day, what would it say?

Tea lov­ing, cre­ative, or­gan­ised and a pas­sion for youth and com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment. Th­ese de­fine Bano per­fectly. Orig­i­nally from Nadi and the el­der of two (sis­ters) to Saira Bano and Iqbal Has­san, Bano loves fam­ily time, trav­el­ing, meet­ing peo­ple and learn­ing about cul­tures and his­toric places. She en­joys doo­dling, writ­ing and en­gag­ing in DIY projects. She stud­ied Psy­chol­ogy and The­atre Arts and later went on to pur­sue a Masters in Diplo­macy and In­ter­na­tional Af­fairs all from The Univer­sity of the South Pa­cific. Bano can be called a Jill of all trades. She works full time for the Uni, co­or­di­nates projects for ACT Fiji, is a fam­ily per­son, does cre­ative projects, stitches and blogs. She is the re­cip­i­ent of the first Queens Young Leader award from Fiji, to re­ceive her medal from her majesty the Queen at the Buck­ing­ham Palace. She has also re­ceived the Com­mon­wealth Youth Worker award as one of the four fi­nal­ist from the Pa­cific re­gion. Dreams are free and Bano firmly be­lieves in dream­ing big to achieve big. Re­mem­ber: get cre­ative; in­spire in­no­va­tion; lead a rev­o­lu­tion.

What has been your proud­est mo­ment of im­pact through the or­gan­i­sa­tion so far?

Youth Fest— 72nd Hiroshima Peace Memo­rial - the first in Fiji, held in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ja­pan Pa­cific alumni as­so­ci­a­tion and World peace ini­tia­tive was a proud mo­ment for Bano. Lunch Box - lunch dis­tri­bu­tion to less for­tu­nate on the streets of Suva made pos­si­ble through con­tri­bu­tions and do­na­tions from staff mem­bers at USP and through friends of ACT. Thoughts aloud (spo­ken words) with po­ems, songs and spo­ken words and per­for­mances were by Fi­jian, re­gional and in­ter­na­tional youth. Youth Ad­vo­cacy work­shop at­tended by Fi­jian and re­gional youths on hu­man rights, mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, the­atre and so­cial is­sues. Mai Talanoa panel dis­cus­sion on themes of men­tal health, sui­cide in Fiji, youth and ed­u­ca­tion, youth in peace build­ing, cli­mate change, in­ter­na­tional youth or­gan­i­sa­tions and vol­un­teerism and ac­tivism.

What has been the big­gest chal­lenge you’ve faced in your jour­ney so far?

Fi­nance would be a huge chal­lenge. But so far we have been able to do nu­mer­ous projects through col­lab­o­ra­tion and with min­i­mum costs.

Where does your Girl­Boss gene come from?

My em­pow­er­ing mother and aunt and very sup­port­ive fa­ther, sis­ter, hus­band and fam­ily. They have al­ways en­cour­aged me to be con­fi­dent, be in­volved in pub­lic speak­ing and be cre­ative.

Is there a fe­male leader/peer/col­league/men­tor that in­spires the work you do?

I hon­estly find Ellen Degeneres in­spi­ra­tional. Also I find in­spi­ra­tion from my hard work­ing mother and my very cre­ative sis­ter.

What ad­vice would you give to young women in the Pa­cific?

Pa­cific cul­ture has tra­di­tion­ally been cre­ative and ex­pres­sive. We need to main­tain that, ex­plore that, prac­tice and pro­mote it too. We need to chal­lenge the cul­ture of si­lence be­cause there is no room for dis­re­spect, in­equal­ity and vi­o­lence. We need to rise to­gether and be the voice to make the pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence that is so des­per­ately needed. Re­mem­ber, when some­one asks what you have done for your coun­try and com­mu­nity, you bet­ter have a good an­swer.

If you could travel back to seven years from to­day, what ad­vice would you give to your­self?

Seven years ago I was al­ready do­ing youth and com­mu­nity work. I think I would tell my­self to keep go­ing. Maybe if I go back 15 years I would tell my 15 yr old teenage self not to worry so much about what my school teach­ers thought of me. I would say great­ness comes from within and to con­tinue play­ing sports and maybe eat bet­ter.

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