24 June 2009

Nadi, Fiji Islands


Increased women’s participation in decision making, through greater representation within advisory councils and other development committees can ensure women have a greater say in addressing key human security issues affecting local communities including environmental and health security, food and economic security, personal and community security, as well as infrastructure.


These are the experiences which will be shared in femLINKPACIFIC’s rural women’s community radio broadcast in Nadi tomorrow. The community radio broadcast will be staged from 8am live from McDonalds Nadi.


Sharing their experiences with femLINKPACIFIC yesterday (23 June) were 22 women leaders representing local clubs and organisations including the Nadi Women’s Muslim League, mothers clubs of the Nadi Women’s Advisory Council, the Soqosoqo Vakamarama Nadi Tikina, PRIDE (the district women’s networks coordinated by the Fiji Council of Social Services), as well as executives of the National Council of Women Fiji, who came together from Nakurakura, Sikituru Village, Nagado Village, Nakavu, Uciwai, Alahdata, Votualevu, Mulomulo, Salovi, Nawaka and Namaka.


The pre broadcast consultation received femLINKPACIFIC’s 1st quarter Women, Peace and Human Security report and used this as a basis for group discussions in the pre broadcast consultation which resulted in the production of an in depth panel discussion on Women, Peace and Human Security.


What are women saying?


For many rural women and their families access to education and employment is impeded by poor road conditions which result in poor bus services. Poor road conditions also means that electricity and water supply services also do not reach women and their families living outside of the town boundary, increasing the daily burden of women’s work as well.


Personal security was linked to poverty and rising economic insecurities, as result of rising unemployment for young people. Women, shared their fears of working in their farms, and raised concerned about the increasing reports of physical, emotional, sexual abuse and violence against women and children. There was also serious concern about the prevalence of substance abuse, including marijuana.


Aside from concerns about the cost and availability of fresh food and vegetables, rural health services also featured high on the list of priorities for improving women’s health. In addition to ensuring women and girls, in particular receive information and are able to have regular check ups for cervical and breast cancer, concern was raised specifically about the lack of access to medicine and medical services, following the closure of community dispensaries. Health services, the women agreed, need to be more accessible for rural women, many of whom cannot afford to travel to the hospital in the town. Pharmaceutical services also need to be subsidized.


However, despite their concerns and their solutions, including innovative practices to generate income, participants at the consultation also noted that even to consider participating in formal decision making spheres will require greater understanding and valuing of gender equality, especially by male leaders who have traditionally held the power of decision making in rural communities.


Women, said the consultation participants, have the solutions and are keen to engage through dialogue and discussion with national and local/district level leaders, to see these insecurities transform into peace and human security realities. They just need to be given the opportunity.


The Nadi Women, Peace and Human Security report will be heard on femTALK 89.2FM in Nadi from 8am tomorrow (25 June 2009) together with field reports from Nakavu Village, Sanasana community and Navakai HART, together with special features from the UN Radio programme – Women.


Sharon Bhagwan Rolls
Coordinator: femLINKPACIFIC - Media Initiatives for Women
P O Box 2349 Government Buildings Suva
Phone (O) 679 3310303 (Fax) 679 3307207 (M) 679 9244871
Website: http://www.femlinkpacific.org.fj/
Community Media Centre: 2nd Floor Bayly House
193 Rodwell Road, Suva

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