SUVA, Fiji — As women’s rights become more acknowledged around the world, Fiji initiatives are taking the necessary steps to further increase women’s empowerment in Fiji. The projects being put in place include the REACH Project Mobile Service Delivery, Domestic Violence Helpline and the National Service Delivery Protocol for Responding to Cases of Gender-Based Violence. Fijian women are also using individual efforts to empower themselves. Here are details about the efforts and projects taking place:
REACH Project Mobile Service Delivery
The REACH Project is one of many projects aiding women’s empowerment in Fiji. REACH is sustained by Japan’s Government and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and directed by the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, the Legal Aid Commission and the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission. Teams visit maritime communities in custom-built buses in order to raise awareness of women’s rights protected in the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji. The teams also talk with people and offer any required legal, social or economic services.
At a recent workshop organized in Suva, a hundred women from Fiji’s Eastern Division accessed these services. In Fiji, specifically in the rural area, there are limited opportunities to access necessary information and services, especially because travel is so difficult. Thus, the main purpose of this project is to bring the services and assistance to Fijian people who otherwise would have no other way of getting them.
Domestic Violence Helpline
The Domestic Violence Helpline is another milestone improving women’s empowerment in Fiji. This project was started by the Ministry of Women and Children and Poverty Alleviation on International Women’s Day this March in Suva, Fiji.
The purpose of this helpline is to further women’s empowerment in Fiji by encouraging women to gain control of themselves, their financial well-being and their health and is available 24/7 on a toll-free line. In addition to the creation of the helpline, the Prime Minister, Rear Admiral Vorege Bainimarama, also encouraged all Fijian men to join the fight against domestic violence to women and children by supporting this helpline and agreeing to respect and protect women.
National Service Delivery Protocol for Responding to Cases of Gender-Based Violence
The creation of this new interagency protocol enables women and children confronted with violence to have access to better services. These services will streamline assistance provided to victims and help give them access to essential services in a timely manner. These services will include police, counseling and advocacy, health and shelter, legal aid and other services that provide necessary aid to women and children in need.
Individual Efforts from Fijian Women
In addition to specific projects and plans put in place for women’s empowerment in Fiji, individual women are also taking control and empowering themselves. On International Women’s day this year, a woman named Toska Low showed off her handicraft talents along with 200 other artisans. Low explained that handicraft trade is a way for women to not only earn an income when they do not have a job, it is also a way to empower women in their communities. Handicraft trade is a productive use of free time that women can use to enhance their daily lives.
Speaking at the event, a minister for women, Mereseini Vuniwaq, explicitly encouraged the handicraft trade and the participation of more female artisans because it empowered women and their capabilities. She also explained that enhancing women’s efforts in the artisan field is important for the economy, business and society in Fiji. She closed by saying: “”We need to continue to integrate the needs and interests of both women and men into key policies and strategies of all sectors of government.”
Women’s empowerment in Fiji is a daily obstacle that many are taking time to improve so as to better the lives of the women and the people of Fiji. Addressing these gender issues and taking action to mitigate these problems and raise awareness are the crucially necessary steps to empower women and ensure that they have access to the assistance and support that they need.
– McCall Robison