Mobilising Rangatahi to Action: An Interview with Ranisha Chand

10 February 2019

17 year old Ranisha Chand migrated to Aotearoa New Zealand from Fiji with her family in 2014 and has spent the years since giving back to her community. A leader that encourages the empowerment of rangatahi, Ranisha is the ambassador for Shakti Youth Network for Change (SYNC) at Papatoetoe High School.

SYNC is a network of young people dedicated to creating violence-free homes and communities. It’s a youth-focused network centred on empowering young people to speak up and be heard. In the context of youth from migrant and refugee communities, it’s about supporting the voices of minority groups to be heard on issues that matter to them, their lives and futures in Aotearoa New Zealand. SYNC is part of the New Zealand arm of Shakti International.

Minister and Ranisha

L-R: Minister for Youth Hon Peeni Henare and Ranisha Chand

“I started my journey with Shakti Youth in 2015 as one of their high school ambassadors, a role I still hold. Coming up with the idea of conducting a youth march was a life-changing experience. Alongside many SYNC Ambassadors, I executed youth-led marches in Auckland city in 2017 and 2018 focused on ‘Anti-Bullying and Discrimination’ and ‘Rape Culture and Forced Marriage’. I have also organised and hosted intergenerational panel discussions in my school and in the community with themes such as feminism, cultural identity and gender equality,” says Ranisha.

Ranisha is a mobiliser and has been a catalyst for her peers, inspiring action. She has organised several fundraisers to support Shakti’s women’s refuge services. She has co-ordinated workshops on family violence at an Auckland Young Feminists hui and co-facilitated a workshop on ‘running a school advocacy group’ at the 2018 Shakti Youth leadership training event. She plans to advocate for women’s rights and gender equality in her country of birth, Fiji.

“I’m passionate about feminism and youth in leadership roles. I’m motivated to mobilise young people so that they have a better understanding of issues such as violence, discrimination and gender inequality when they reach the age that they are leading the country,” she says.

Ranisha was a recipient of an Inclusion and Diversity Award, as well as the inaugural Junior Supreme Award, in the New Zealand Youth Awards 2018. Her experience was made even more special by the fact that she celebrated her 17th birthday on the day of the Awards.

Birthday Girl

We asked her for advice for other young people who might be keen to become involved in community-focused advocacy work.

“The best advice I could give, would be to take all the opportunities opened to you. You never know unless you try something. I definitely would not have accomplished this many achievements if I did not step out of my comfort zone. From being a shy migrant from Fiji, to being a strong feminist advocate in New Zealand, is something I guarantee that I wasn't expecting when I came here.”

Ranisha has recently been announced as Head Girl for Papatoetoe High School for 2019 and is looking forward to studying medicine once she has completed NCEA Level 3. It’s clear that Ranisha is someone who makes things happen and we’re sure that we’ll be hearing of her successes for years to come.