Connecting the past with the present
Traditionally, the women in the village oversaw the practice, safeguarded and passed on this knowledge. The salt was used for cooking, medicine and hygiene purposes. At 84 years of age, Alena Mata is the eldest woman in the community who retains the traditional knowledge, “I am happy we are reviving this tradition. We are carrying on our legacy for future generations to benefit from”, says the elder. In contrast, Mata’s granddaughter 33-year-old Taraivini Mosarau is the youngest member of the community partaking in the practice of her ancestors. “I’m proud to learn about and carry on the tradition of my grandparents to my own children. The revival of the practice gives me a sense of purpose and brings the community together,” said Mosarau.
Globally, women make up just over 50 percent of the population, yet gender inequality persists. The gravity of climate change impact affects everyone differently depending on your socio-economic status and access to resources. However, a solution requires the contribution of both women and men from all backgrounds. Indigenous women have felt the brunt of climate change for generations nonetheless they have also led the way in environmental conservation. Their knowledge and skills in aspects such as natural resource management and innovation are integral to building resilience to climate change impact. Women are also more willing to share information that supports a community’s wellbeing and resilience.
“I’m happy to see the effort being made by UNDP, especially with women to revive the traditional salt making practice in Vusama, this is very important”, said H.E. Bande. In his commendation of the people of Vusama for their unity and work in reviving a traditional practice that nurtures social resilience. It is not lost on me that the visit by the President of the UN General Assembly coincides with International Women’s Day weekend. The global fight towards gender equality in all areas, is still as relevant as ever. The complex issues surrounding climate change are no exception. It is paramount that women from diverse backgrounds, socio-economic or otherwise, gain equal access to resources, are encouraged and empowered to be part of the process to strengthen social resilience and accomplish sustainable communities in the long-term.
The Fiji Ridge to Reef project is committed to sustaining livelihoods through revival of indigenous knowledge systems, cultural identity, gender equality and social resilience. The project is supporting Vusama’s cultural practice through the recent development of a salt making site.
You can find out more about the R2R Project here
Sulu: A traditional Fijian clothing garment worn by women and men, similar to a sarong.
iVakasobu: A traditional ceremonial welcome accorded to chiefs of high status. It signifies to the chief, in this case H.E. Bande, that the community and its resources are indeed privileged and honoured to be graced with his presence.
Tabua: A whale’s tooth. An item of paramount value and significance to the traditional Fijians (iTaukei) used in the presentation of the welcoming speech, to officially welcome the chief guest off their mode of transportation.