Women empowerment – Females increasingly participating in all spheres of life – Bhatnagar

Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Veena Bhatnagar delivering her speech at the 59th Sanatan Annual Convention in Samabula, Suva. Picture: SUPPLIED

Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Veena Bhatnagar. Picture: SUPPLIED

Those days are gone when women in Fiji remained confined to the four walls of their homes and their immense strength and potential remained unrecognised and unaccounted for, says Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Veena Bhatnagar.

Speaking at the opening of the Tavua Women’s mini-craft show last week, she said presently, women were increasingly participating in all spheres of life.

“Women, especially rural women, having toiled under circumstances of stereotypes for centuries, owe it to themselves to embrace how they can be effective actors of development within their homes and the society,” she said.

“Also, families need to support the girls within their homes foremost in making strong-minded, progressive and passionate women who can influence greater positive changes for themselves and those around them.

“Today, in contrast to the past centuries, we find women literate, educated, and liberated to lead. We find their surge forward not only in the political front, but also in social life where they act as agents of change contributing to economic development as well.”

She said women’s roles had expanded from being homemakers to being the force behind the evolution of our societies.

“Fiji has come a long way in transforming as a society that believes in the empowerment of women and recognises their contribution to the development of our nation.

“Today, we have the highest number of women in Parliament in Fiji’s democratic history. We have more women graduating from tertiary institutions than men and we have more women owning businesses than in yesteryears.

“And this change has come about not without its struggles and sacrifices, protests and conflicts.

“This transformation is a result of Governments that valued equality for all Fijians, civil society organisations that lobbied for women’s human rights to be upheld, development partners that strengthened relations with Fiji to influence a better life for Fijian women, families that respected and supported women, and off course individuals who changed their perception of women’s traditional roles in our societies.

“However, one can never say the world has seen gender equality and rights of women championed in the fullest sense because there is still a lot that is left to be achieved in this area.”

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