Vuniwaqa highlights the increase in fisheries participation of women

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa (with garland) at the women in fisheries forum in Suva today. Picture: FIJIAN GOVERNMENT/Facebook

WOMEN in Fiji, and similarly in other Pacific Island countries, are increasingly moving away from traditionally defined areas of fisheries participation.

Now, Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa said women were taking on commercial and post-harvest activities, and setting up small-scale businesses.

Speaking at the women in fisheries forum in Suva today, Mrs Vuniwaqa however highlighted th lack of adequate data to prove this at this point in time.

But she said a common sight at any of the local municipal and road side markets were women engaging in seafood marketing activities, selling their products to a wide range of consumers for domestic and commercial use.

Mrs Vuniwaqa however argued that women fishers were still expected to fulfill their traditional duties and obligations, obviously because of the lack of recognition of their trade as a form of economic activity, while having to keep up with modern market economy demands.

“It is therefore safe to say, that the role of today’s women fishers has not evolved, but rather it has expanded. Concerted efforts are required to change this in order to translate this under-recognized economic activity of our women into sustainable ventures for our economic development,” she said.

“We can no longer afford to let our women fishers remain invisible and I am extremely happy that organizations like the Women in Fisheries Network-Fiji are taking great strides in making the women fishers visible in our nation and it is with keenness, that I render the support of my Ministry to further develop this area of work,” she said.

“I am told that the Network has a Strategic Plan (2016-2020), aligned with a number of key national, regional and international policies.”

The Fijian Government has also been taking necessary steps in strengthening this area of work for the Fijian women.

“Firstly, our 5 year and 20 year National Development Plan promises that Government will provide equal opportunities for all, including the participation of women in education, leadership, and overall economic development, and will continue its strong efforts to eliminate violence against women.”

Mrs Vuniwaqa thanked the Women in Fisheries Network-Fiji for inviting her to officiate at this very important event which also launched the research findings of the ‘National Stock take of the Institutional and Enabling Mechanisms that Support Gender in Fisheries in Fiji”.

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