Speech by Dyfan Jones, Effective Governance Team Leader & Parliamentary Development Specialist, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji
Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation
Dear Ladies of the Eastern and Central Divisions,
Representatives of the media corps;
Colleagues and friends:
Ni Yadra Vinaka, A very good morning to you all!
It is a great privilege to be with you at this Capacity Building Workshop organized by the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji. It is an absolute pleasure to see you all, the women from Eastern and Central Divisions. I know that some of you came all the way from Lau, Kadavu, and Lomaiviti and other remote communities travelling days ahead of the National Women’s Expo.
I would like to start by saying Congratulations to the Hon. Minister, on this excellent event and for supporting women to have this opportunity to develop their awareness and knowledge in social, economic and legal aspects of their lives, and in providing opportunities to upscale entrepreneurial skills, ensure decent work and improve livelihoods.
UNDP is truly proud to be involved in such an amazing event that contributes to gender equality and empowerment of women.
These goals permeate many of our programmes, including the Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion for Rural and Urban Fijians Project, which we, and I think by now many in Fiji, affectionately refer to as the REACH Project.
The REACH Project coordinates government officers from different agencies to form teams to visit communities, in rural, urban and maritime areas. The teams conduct awareness raising activities on social, economic and legal rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji, and deliver the services associated with these rights provided by the government. Some of you may have received the REACH mobile service delivery teams in your communities and may have learned about or even applied for services yourselves.
By conducting project activities, the REACH Project aims to assist people and government of Fiji to achieve sustainable development. The Project focuses on two areas that are linked to the global development goals, the SDGs
Sustainable Development Goals
In raising awareness in the communities, and delivering services to people, the REACH mobile teams aim to ensure that ‘no one is left behind’ and to try and ‘reach the furthest behind first’. ‘The furthest behind’ often include groups of people who are marginalized in the existing systems of society, or who feel disempowered. It often includes women. The REACH Project is committed to empowerment of women and achieving gender equality.
Gender equality and empowerment of women is central in ensuring sustainable development.
The REACH Project also aims to strengthen the capacity of government institutions to deliver these services. The Project is designed to support the Government of Fiji to ‘reach out’ to communities to provide delivery of their services.
Indeed, the effective and efficient provision of government service delivery is an important aspect for sustainable development. Accountable and accessible service delivery builds confidence between the people and the government and enables the people and government to work together towards sustainable development.
Outreach result and Partnership
The REACH mobile service delivery teams are comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation; the Legal Aid Commission; the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission; Births, Deaths and Marriages and other government agencies, as well as UNDP. As of April 2018, the mobile teams have reached 14,389 people in 120 districts across all 14 provinces and Rotuma in all four Divisions of Fiji, Northern, Eastern, Central and Western Divisions.
In Fiji, this work would not have been possible without robust partnerships with these national institutions, constitutional bodies and civil society partners; and with women and men, girls and boys in communities across the country.
I would like to express UNDP’s strong appreciation to the Government of Fiji and all other REACH partners. I wish to especially acknowledge the generous financial support of the Government of Japan to the success of this project. Without your support, this project would not have hit the heights that it has so far.
In closing, I sincerely hope that, having travelled so far to get here, this two-day capacity development workshop will provide meaningful opportunities to you all. I hope that will gain new ideas and receive useful information, skills and knowledge. You will also be able to find the REACH teams during the Expo to provide you and all other Expo participants with awareness raising and service delivery activities.
My colleagues and I look forward to further engaging with the women who come to Suva this week at the Expo, and of course purchasing some of the excellent and unique handicrafts you have produced.
Thank you once again for participating in this capacity building workshop with us.