Services to empower women in Fiji to be bold for change

Apr 12, 2017

Women from the Nauluvatu Village during a mobile service delivery session with the REACH Project (Photo: UNDP/Viliame Vocevuka)

People across Fiji, no matter where they live whether in the rural or urban, are stepping up towards empowerment of women and gender equality and are being encouraged to be bold for change. A range of initiatives across the country are supporting such change, including the Mobile Service Delivery initiative undertaken as part of the Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) for Rural and Urban Fijians Project, and the launch of Fiji’s first Domestic Violence Helpline.  

The REACH Project Mobile Service Delivery is supported by the Government of Japan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and is conducted by teams of officers from the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, the Legal Aid Commission, and the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission. The teams visit rural, urban and maritime communities to raise awareness of rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji, and then immediately deliver any required legal, social and economic services.

A hundred and fifty one people (89 women and 62 men) in Nauluvatu village and Nabukaluka Village of the Waidina District in the Naitasiri Province received the awareness raising and services delivery sessions through the REACH Mobile Service Delivery team on March 7th of this year.  A hundred and thirty nine people (131 women and 8 men) also gathered in Korovou Town located in the Namalata District of Tailevu Province to celebrate International Women’s Day and benefitted from the team’s visit.

UNDP PO REACH-teamREACH Mobile Service Delivery team traveling to Nauluvatu Village (Photo: UNDP/Tevita Dawai)

Latileta Nainiwasa from Saukasa Village, who was at the cerebration, could not imagine how she could improve her livelihood to support her family and children until the REACH Mobile Service Delivery came to provide the awareness of the services available within the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation. 

“I have been receiving social welfare services from the Ministry for my children but did not think about any other support I could apply for,” said Nainiwasa. 

She added, “I learned the information of other schemes provided by the Ministry through the team we met today. I will plan to set up my small business with the support from the Ministry’s services, which will lift up my life, raising my children and sending them school.”

Pita Vakaravia was among the participants in the awareness raising and service delivery session conducted by the REACH Mobile Service Delivery team in Nauluvatu village, and was not sure about the various services provided by the Government. 

“I am now well informed of the services provided by the Ministry and the Legal Aid Commission and understand my rights to the services stated in our Constitution,” said Vakaravia.

“Our geographical isolation may be a barrier to us obtaining information on the government services that is beneficial to us all. I am thankful that the team of officers came all the way to our community with all those information and services,” he added.

Another significant milestone towards the empowerment of women and gender equality in Fiji was undertaken by the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation on International Women’s Day in Suva.  

UNDP PO REACH-Helpline(Left to right) Christine Fowler, UNDP REACH Project Manager; Fiji Prime Minister, Rear Admiral (Retired) Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama; Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa; and Ambassador of Japan in Fiji, H.E. Mr. Takuji Hanatani at the Launch of the Domestic Violence Helpline and National Women’s Expo in commemoration of the 2017 International Women’s Day (Photo: UNDP/Tomoko Kashiwazaki)

Fiji’s Hon. Prime Minister Rear Admiral Voreqe Bainimarama officially launched the Domestic Violence Helpline, noting that the initiative is designed to encourage Fijian women to be bold and to seize control of their lives, their health and their economic well-being.     

Anyone can access the 24-hour/7 day-a-week toll-free helpline by calling 1560. Hon. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama further called on all Fijian men to protect and respect women and to join in the fight to end violence against women and children. 

The Fiji National Women’s Expo 2017 was also launched during the International Women’s Day celebrations, further strengthening initiatives for the empowerment of all women across Fiji. The REACH Project is a proud supporter of the Expo, where a range of awareness raising activities will be undertaken in relation to gender equality and empowerment.