1. FIRST WOMEN CENTRE IN KADAVU TO PROMOTE WOMEN’S INTERESTS
The opening of the first women’s centre in Kadavu has been described as a milestone achievement that will position the province to promote the interests of women.
Located at the government station at Vunisea village, the resource centre is named the “Soqosoqo Vakamarama Southern Star Women’s Centre” was officially opened this week by the Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni.
The construction of this Centre began in 2011 and was fully funded by government through a grant of $86,000.
In her opening address, Minister Luveni reiterated that the new centre will create employment and economic opportunities for women in Kadavu.
“This Centre will be an incentive for the women of Kadavu to work hard and use their skills and resources. It will open up new income generating opportunities for the women and complement their efforts towards poverty alleviation.
“The Ministry has so far built 20 women resource centres around Fiji and these Centre’s are hub for economic development for women. The Centers are operating on “One Centre One Product” concept. I encourage the women in Kadavu to make maximum use of this centre, it provides a platform for you to share your ideas and coordinate your income generating activities,” Dr Luveni said.
Mrs Bulou Lavenia Yavala, vice president of the Soqosoqo Vakamarama Kadavu thanked the government for fulfilling this much awaited development for the Kadavu women.
“We thank the government of the day for giving us this centre, it will employ the women and provide them with an opportunity to improve their livelihood. We had requested for this centre in 2010 and were so impressed with a positive response from the government.
“This is one of the biggest projects for the women of Kadavu, government has given $86000 to develop this new facility. It has got two bedrooms, lounge, kitchen and a training room, all under one roof. The Centre will be used to facilitate trainings for government officials, provide accommodation and rest rooms for civil servants and tourists. We are honoured to have Dr Luveni here with us today for official opening of this centre and she has assured us that the Ministry will further assist through providing laptops for the centre,” Mrs Yavala said.
Kadavu’s Acting Provincial Administrator Epeli Dugucagi emphasized that the Centre has given a new hope and recognition to the women in Kadavu.
“We are pleased that the project has come to fruition the significance of this Centre is that it will change the mindset of the communities to recognize that women are not limited to their traditional roles as housewives and mothers, they have progressed and now they also play key role in earning income for their families. This centre will broaden their knowledge and empower the women folks to be financially independent and contribute towards the economic development in Kadavu,” Mr Dugucagi added.
2. POULTRY PROJECT THRIVES IN KADAVU
THE Tavuki Women’s Group in the village of Tavuki, Kadavu is now reaping the benefits of a poultry project which started in 2011.
As the women in Tavuki don’t have access to secured employment, they depend on fishing and small scale farming to support their families. In response, government through the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation provided a funding of $4000 to the Tavuki Women’s Group to help them with their poultry project.
The Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni’s visit to the Tavuki village allowed her to see the success behind this income generating project.
Mrs Lusiana Duikete president of the Soqosoqo Vakamarama Kadavu said the project is helping the women to earn an income on a weekly basis.
“We are grateful to the Ministry of Women for giving us $4000 of funding that enabled us to start this poultry project in 2011. We also received advise and training from the Ministry of Agriculture on operating a poultry farm and its has proven to be a profitable business for us women. There are 10 of us in the group who look after the poultry project.
“We get daily orders for the eggs and our customers are mostly the government officials, hotels and nearby schools in Vunisea. There are 58 layer birds and we sell one dozen eggs for $5,” Mrs Duikete said.
She said there is a good market demand for poultry in Kadavu and her group wants to expand the business so they can also sell meat birds.
“We are able to earn around $90 to $100 a week and from that we also have to allocate money to buy the chicken feeds and the income is contributed towards our children’s education and rest of the earnings goes to our savings account. We have managed to save more then $800 and we are grateful that the Ministry for this assistance, as often in rural areas, income generating is a challenge,” Mrs Duikete reiterated.
Following her visit to the project site, Dr Jiko Luveni acknowledged the efforts of the Tavuki women in operating this poultry business and she said the Ministry would like to develop similar projects in Kadavu.
She said her Ministry continues to empower women into income generating projects that complement the role of women into food security and poverty alleviation.
Tavuki is a village located in Tavuki District in Kadavu. From Vunisea it takes about one hour travel through the rugged roads to reach this village.
3. ECONOMIC BOOST FOR KADAVU WOMEN
Creating economic opportunities for women in remote and maritime areas is one of the core priorities articulated in the government’s Women Plan of Action (2010 to 2019).
It’s in line with this commitment that Government through the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation is providing income generating opportunities to women who are not in permanent employment.
The Ministry’s Sewing programme is one of those initiatives that has inspired women empowerment and has also expanded women networking throughout the country. The Ministry has so far donated over 2000 sewing machines to some 900 women’s groups and the recent beneficiaries of this assistance are the women of Kadavu.
During her official visit to villages in Kadavu earlier this week, the Minister for Social Welfare, Women & Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni donated a total of 47 sewing machines to 18 women’s groups in Naceva and Tavuki districts.
While presenting the donation, Dr Luveni reiterated that the sewing machines are useful tools that will help women to generate income for their families.
“Sewing machines provide an opportunity for the Ministry to network with as many women’s groups as possible. It also enables women to develop their sewing skills and generate income, particularly through sewing school uniforms and everyday wear for their families.
“It also allows women to revive their women’s groups and for women leaders to practice their management skills by managing the sewing program. This networking with the Ministry has enabled the Non-Government Organisations to seek government assistance for income generating projects that contributes towards village development,” Dr Luveni said.
Mrs Katalini Ravono, president of Daku Women’s group from Naceva district said that the donation will help them to add value to the products which is sold to tourists from nearby resorts in Kadavu.
“We are grateful to the Ministry for coming down to our village and present us with this much needed tool. It will help us to sew clothes and decorate handicraft items to be sold to tourists. We will be able to collect more notes and coins in our purses,” she said.
Similarly, the vice president of Soqosoqo Vakamarama Kadavu, Mrs Bulou Lavenia Yavala said that the sewing machines complement the income generating activities of the new women’s resource centre opened in Vunisea, Kadavu.
“We are grateful to Dr Luveni for providing us with these timely gifts. The unemployed young women and single mothers in Tavuki district will also have the opportunity to develop their sewing skills and pursue tailoring for income generating. These tools are an inspiration to the women and will help them to contribute towards their household income,” Mrs Yavala.
The Ministry has a vision that by 2014 all the villages in Fiji should have two sewing machines and major sponsors of the sewing machines are the Indian Government, the People’s Republic of China and the Latter Day Saints church.