We are thrilled to spotlight ICAAD Advisor, Priya Chand. Priya is a Communications Practitioner born and based in Fiji. Currently, she oversees communications for the Regional Pacific Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) Hub Project under the German Development Cooperation. With a demand-driven approach, the Hub supports 14 Pacific Islands Countries to develop, enhance, and implement their climate plans – aka their NDCs under the Paris Agreement.
Previously, Priya has been part of the Pacific region’s media fraternity before transitioning into development communications which she enjoys immensely. She also has a keen interest in community development and is an alumnus of Leadership Fiji. In 2019, she was awarded the 2019 Rotary Youth Leadership Award.
Her desire to learn new concepts, unlearn troubling ones, and explore innovative solutions adds value to whatever work she does. That is what led her to ICAAD.
What do you do at ICAAD?
I started with ICAAD as a Volunteer, and gradually moved onto an Advisory role, where I support ICAAD’s work on an ad hoc basis. I provide support in media outreach and designing communications products to suit ICAAD’s range of work. I’ve supported in delivering ICAAD’s ground-breaking work, including their first report on ‘gender biases and gender discrimination within Pacific courts’ in the Pacific media, including New Zealand, and Australia. That report was quite an eye-opener for me personally, especially as a journalist at the time. Of more than 900 cases analyzed, more than 50% of cases reeked of gender bias within judicial decision-making. While many are aware of the concept of biased judicial decision-making, seeing the data and evidence makes it even more chilling and provides grounds to drive meaningful conversation and change.
I am currently trying to piece together an article for ICAAD on reproductive rights sparked from the recent Texan law in the U.S., criminalizing abortion. I have been associated with ICAAD since 2015, and it has always been something new, different, and completely outside my comfort zone. ICAAD’s work through legal advocacy has enabled me to comprehend better the role of law and justice systems and how, if re-designed with thought, care, and innovation – and backed up with data and evidence – these systems can be changed for the better. That blended with media and communication tools is a perfect recipe to inspire dialogue to support that change. I am proud to be a part of this family, doing our part in the world.
What motivates your advocacy efforts?
For me, it’s the somewhat “selfish” desire to create a meaningful difference in one lifetime. I believe it is a good human value to lend a hand or your voice if you’re able. That’s it. Whatever medium or form that takes place – the bottom line is that I’m using whatever resources, time, or energy I can afford to improve someone’s quality of life or to improve systems that can enhance quality of lives.
Giving back to me does not always mean one has to make a grand gesture and impact a thousand lives all at once. Making a difference in one person’s life is also good enough – for you can change that person’s entire world at once – and that feeling is extraordinary. Advocacy can be quiet and impactful at the same time.
What is an important lesson that you’d like to share with other human rights advocates?
It’s about people in the end. Whatever you’re doing, it’s important to always remember to keep intact the dignity of the person or group. We’re not doing anyone a “favor” – we’re just lending voices or a helping hand where an individual does not have the same access to rights, needs, or privilege – but who, in all aspects, is equal to us.