Caption:?seated in front) Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation.Photo:SUPPLIED.
The Ministry of Women has recently met with Non-Government Organisations (NGO?s) to look at key areas of cooperation to advance women?s interests in Fiji.
The Hon. Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Rosy Akbar chaired the meeting which included representatives from the Fiji Women?s Crisis Centre (FWCC), Femlink Pacific, Fiji Muslim Women?s League, Fiji Girl Guides Association, TISI Sangam, Sri Sewa Sabha, Soqosoqo Vakamarama (SSVM), PPSEAWA (Pan Pacific & South East Asia Women’s Association), Fiji Catholic Women?s League, Latter Day Saints Women?s Welfare Society and Shrest Mothers Club.?
Discussions between Minister Akbar and the NGO representatives looked at ways to strengthened networking to promote socioeconomic empowerment and leadership development of women.
The priority issue highlighted at the meeting was the need to strengthen partnership between the Ministry and NGO?s to eliminate violence against women in Fiji.?
The Minister said that NGO?s need to firm up their cooperation with the Ministry to robustly address women?s issues in Fiji. ?
?A Taskforce on elimination of violence has embarked on a collaborative framework to address the issue of domestic violence. We are working closely with Fiji Police, to ensure that the laws and legislations that we have in place are not violated and it?s good to see that more women are now reporting cases. The taskforce will also ensure that once cases of domestic violence are reported then there shouldn?t be any reconciliation, cases should be investigated thoroughly and where required restraining orders should be issued,? Mrs Akbar said.
?The Ministry has an open door policy and women can also visit any of the Ministry?s offices to seek advice and assistance on the issue. I will also be meeting with the Commissioner of Police to look at ways in which the Ministry can collaboratively organise more vigorous and stronger campaign, particularly including the male advocacy programs to address domestic violence,? she reiterated.
The president of the Soqosoqo Vakamarama, Adi Finau Tabakaucoro supported the comments made by the minister and acknowledged Government?s contribution towards women empowerment.
?We thank the Honorable Minister for giving us this opportunity to share ideas and ways in which we can reach out and assist more women. Government is doing a lot in terms of women empowerment, as NGO?s we would also like to contribute towards the Ministry?s vision for women,? Ms Tabakaucoro said.
Speaking on behalf of the FWCC, Ms Vandhna Narayan said that Ministry?s support would be essential for some of the plans made by the Centre. ?
?Our aim is to eliminate violence against women in Fiji and currently 64 per cent of women in Fiji experience violence. Through our partnership with theMinistry, we want that number to come to zero. One of the areas in which we can cooperate is the setting up of women?s shelter, FWCC has purchased two buildings one in Ba and one in Labasa to set up as women?s shelters. ?We look forward for the Ministry?s assistance in providing longterm housing needs of women.
?This is FWCC?s 31st year and we are hoping that this would be an opportunity through which we can put more focus on eliminating violence against women,? Ms Narayan said.