Young Mothers Project 2017

Young Mothers Project 2017





Aim: To deliver workshops that empower and provide opportunities for young mothers in the Western Division. This will increase their ability to make informed decisions, control their reproductive health and financial stability, and pursue their career or educational goals.

Need: Teenage pregnancy is a major concern in Fiji. Not only is the mother faced with the sudden and daunting responsibility of caring for a child, she faces disruption to her education and career prospects, which can begin a downward spiral of unemployment, poverty and poor physical and mental health for both mother and child. Support can be limited due to the stigma and shame associated with teenage pregnancy, incurring social isolation from family and community. From a medical perspective, a teenage mother has higher risks of complications, unsafe abortion and violence during pregnancy compared to older mothers.
The need for intervention on sexual and reproductive health is also evident:

  • Teenage pregnancy rate: 24.3 out of every 1000 births in Fiji are to teenage mothers1
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): High levels exist in Fiji, with around 230 per 100,000 people infected. Rates are higher for those aged under 251
  • Cervical cancer: This the second most common cause of cancer deaths in Fijian women, yet up to 72% of women in rural communities have not even heard of it2
  • Pap Smears: Less than 10% of women in Fiji have Pap smear screenings2, meaning poor early detection rates of and less chance of survival. 

Background: While the need for a program to target both reproductive health and life skills was evident, the Young Mothers Project was created after Community Health Workers (CHWs) from Viseisei Village and surrounding areas identified that more support was needed for the high number of disempowered young mothers in their area. In response, the Young Mothers Project began in 2015 with over 30 young mothers involved from Viseisei Village and neighbouring areas. This initial project was so successful that further funding was sought to continue the program in other communities. A grant from IWA (International Women’s Association Fiji) allowed this to occur, with the larger scale Young Mothers Project commencing in 2017.  The 2017 project is facilitated by Viseisei Sai Health Centre with support from team members from the Collection Community Ownership of Health and Social Issues (CCOHSI) Project.

Target Area: Thirty target communities of the CCOHSI project, which are spread across four districts in the Western Division of Fiji (Nadi, Lautoka, Ba and Tavua).

Project Details: Working with community health workers and zone nurses in these communities, the VSHC team identifies mothers in the respective areas who could benefit from the program. This mostly includes, though is not strictly limited to, mothers who are:

  • Aged between 15-25 years (or older, if they became pregnant at a young age)
  • Single
  • Not currently working

Once identified, VSHC staff meet with the mothers and conduct a needs assessment to better understand the mother’s demographics, background, career or educational goals, and social situation. This information is gathered and used to plan workshop topics.

The project consists of running three one-day workshops per area, each following a similar format with room to accommodate specific needs identified in the assessments.

Phase 1: Reproductive Health and Empowerment
The first workshop is conducted by CCOHSI team members including nurses, health promotion officers, and social workers. Topics discussed include sexual and reproductive health, family planning, healthy relationships, empowerment, self-awareness and child feeding/nutrition. A brief questionnaire on reproductive and sexual health is given to the mothers pre and post workshop to assess any gains in knowledge in this area. Plans for future workshops include having the VSHC clinic bus present for the mothers to attend health screenings and family planning on the day.

Phase 2: Stakeholder Presentations
The second workshop aims to present the mothers with services and support that are available to them through various departments, such as Births, Deaths and Marriages, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Department of Women, Department of Social Welfare, National Employment Centre (NEC), Roko Tui Ba (Itaukei affairs), Ministry of Justice, and service providers from various organisations focused on small business, microfinance, or education (eg. Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS), Technical College of Fiji). Here, the needs assessments findings are also presented by VSHC to the stakeholders and mothers.

Phase 3: Financial Literacy
The third workshop focuses on financial literacy, including microfinance, savings, and small enterprise. This assists the mothers who wish to establish a small business to support their livelihood, and helps them learn how to better manage their income. The final workshop also provides an opportunity for the mothers to follow up with forming officially registered Youth or Women’s Groups, which increase their access to services from the various government organisations.


1. Lautoka (completed Jan – Mar)

Communities: Matawalu Village, Vanuakula Settlement, Vadreiyawasewa Settlement, Seniyaya Settlement, Namoli Village, Tavakubu Settlement, Saru Village, Lauwaki Settlement and Delaisaweni Settlement.

  • Phase 1: Jan 18th  
  • Phase 2: Feb 24th
  • Phase 3: Mar 24th

The Lautoka series of workshops involved approximately 35 young mothers who after attending the program formed a Women’s Group that is to be officially registered with Department of Women. This provides a social support network for the mothers as well as enables them to receive grants for enterprises, education and training through the department.
2. Nadi (completed Jun – Aug)

Communities: Nawaqadamu Village, Loqi Settlement, Lavusa Settlement, Vatutu Village, Navakai Settlement and Yavuna Village.

  • Phase 1: Jun 21st
  • Phase 2: Jul 20th
  • Phase 3: Aug 10th

The Nadi series of workshops involved approximately 25 participants, of which six mothers attended all three workshops. With assistance from Ministry of Youth and Sports, and National Employment Centre (NEC), the participants were able to enrol with NEC as a prospective source of employment, and discuss future formal trainings with Ministry of Youth to provide the mothers with certificates that will increase their employment opportunities.  

3. Tavua (scheduled for Sep – Oct)

Communities: Yasiyasi Settlement, Nadelei Village, Nadala Village, Buyabuya Village, Drala Village, and Koro Village.

4. Ba (scheduled for Nov – Dec)

Communities: Nasolo Village, Vatulaulau Settlement, Maururu Settlement, Vadravadra Village, Natalecake Village, Sorokoba Village, Lavuci Settlement and Vatuyaka Settlement

1. Ministry of Health and Medical Services. (2015). Annual Report 2015. Parliament of Fiji.
2. Naidu, S.L., et al. (2015). Knowledge, Attitude, Practice and Barriers regarding cervical cancer and its screening using Pap smear, in rural women of Ba, Lautoka and Nadi, Fiji. Pacific Journal of Reproductive Health;1(2):50-59.

CCOSHI Health Promotion Officer Seremaia Koroi and participants at the first workshop in Nadi (June 2017)

VSHC Medical Director Dr. Swaran Naidu discussing reproductive health with participants at second workshop, Nadi (July 2017)

Litiana Tabucala from Department of Social Welfare presenting at second workshop, Nadi (July 2017)

Karunagaran Nair from Ministry of Youth delivering ‘Seeds of Success’ training to young mothers at the third workshop, Nadi (August 2017)

Rachna Ronjini from National Employment Centre assisting mothers to register with NEC program during the third workshop, Nadi (August 2017)

Final phase of the Nadi series - Financial Literacy

VSHC bus provided women’s health screenings at the third workshop in Nadi (August, 2017)