Suva, Fiji – The importance of building resilient social, economic and governance systems was highlighted as a key enabler for rural and urban Fijians to both contribute to and benefit from sustainable development by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at the opening of the Fiji National Women’s Expo on 14 October.
UNDP is supporting Expo through the Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) for Rural and Urban Fijians Project which is being implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation and the Legal Aid Commission. The REACH Project aims to promote peacebuilding, social cohesion and inclusiveness through awareness of rights, access to services, provision of legal advice and institutional capacity building in Fiji. The three-year REACH project is funded by the Government of Japan and has commenced in June 2015 with the initial focus being to enhance delivery of services through the provision of ‘mobile teams’ visiting urban informal and rural communities.
The Honourbale Rosy Sofia Akbar, Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation stated, “The Fijian Government places a lot of importance on taking services to the people wherever they live. The REACH project is a wonderful fit to the puzzle and a means to do reach. This project will be the first of its type in Fiji and I am sure that a lot more space will make a big break for our “difficult to reach communities”.
Sunil Sharma, The Director, Legal Aid Commission said, ‘The REACH project offers us a platform whereby we are able to disseminate information on social and legal services to the women of Fiji. Our aim is to empower the women of Fiji through legal awareness programmes and the REACH project has literally enabled the Legal Aid Commission to reach out to the rural and remote communities of Fiji.”
H.E. Mr. Takuji Hanatani Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan at the opening said, “Japan is a co-sponsor of the Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion for Rural and Urban Fijians Project…this is aimed at effectively improving the people’s access to social services, especially for the women of Fiji in rural areas and information settlements. This is in line with two of the main concepts for Japanese Overseas Development Assistance, namely Strengthening Human Security and Encouraging Gender Equality.”
The Ambassador also urged the women of Fiji, “to realize your true value in society and recognize your rights. I encourage you to come forward and take advantage of the REACH project and the wider empowerment initiative put in place by the Fijian Government and key stakeholders. It is only through ownership and participation by you, the women, in the programmes and policies initiated by the government, that practical empowerment of women can be realized.”
Akiko Fujii, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative said, “Since the REACH Project commenced in June 2015, there has been most positive feedback from those who have benefitted from the mobile services, as they consider the awareness and service delivery being provided at the community level by the Fijian Government, through the project as highly valuable.”
Prior to the Expo, on Monday 12 October, 120 women from the Northern Division who were selected to participate in Expo, attended a one-day workshop in Suva coordinated by the REACH project and gained awareness on the social and legal services available to them and also to increase their skills in financial literacy.
"I learned about some important things in our life, such as registration of titles, caveat filing, preparing a will and more about the REACH project in today’s session," said Maopa Maibatiki, from Wailevu District, Cakaudrove Province who participated in the workshop.
Also during Expo on Thursday 15 October the International Day of Rural Women was celebrated. In his message, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon said, “this year’s observance of the International Day of Rural Women falls just after last month’s landmark adoption by world leaders of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Our challenge now is to seize the opportunity offered by this inspiring new framework to transform rural women’s lives.”
In Fiji, the REACH project is taking up this opportunity to contribute to the transformation of rural women’s lives.
Tomoko Kashiwazaki, UNV Advocacy and Communications Specialist, tel: +679 331 2500+679 331 2500; 9422193, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheryl Ho, UNDP Knowledge Communications Analyst, tel: +679 322 7504+679 322 7504; email: email@example.com