WOMEN are at risk of entrenched poverty and suffering as long as violence against them continues.
The comment was made by Australia's Global Ambassador for Women and Girls, Penny Williams, at an International Women's Day reception in Suva last week.
"Violence against women is a fundamental development issue," she said.
"It prevents women from contributing fully to their communities and from participating in the economy," Ms Williams said in a statement from the Australian High Commision. She said women living with violence were less likely to contribute fully to the formal economy, to society and political life.
Ms Williams said women must be economically empowered to provide them the opportunity to participate in the economy and achieve fundamental independence. She said there was now a growing recognition of violence against women in our communities and acknowledged the work of the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre on advocating women's issues.
The global ambassador on her brief visit to the country also toured the Colonial War Memorial Hospital and met representatives of the Fiji Women's Rights Movement and FemLINK Pacific.