THE United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) is creating awareness among community leaders in the north on equality and women's participation in all levels of political decision making.
Workshop facilitator Jeanette Bolenga said the workshop was aimed at empowering women to participate more in the political arena, especially in the decision making machineries of governments across the Pacific.
Ms Bolenga said the workshop was the result of a partnership between government and the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation aimed at ensuring equal gender participation and representation in political decision-making.
"As the moment government is in the consultation period with various groups regarding the upcoming 2014 elections, this is a good time for groups such as ours to use the opportunity to empower women and to, encourage them to take part in the elections."
"Below 20 seats of over 537 parliamentarian seats in the Pacific Region are held by women parliamentarians and there is a need for equal representations with relations to gender to ensure that we have a level playing field in our political arena," she said. "The workshop ensures that women are aware of their rights and the opportunities that they have."
Ms Bolenga said community heads trained during the workshop would conduct their own community awareness programs in future when the need arose.
"We only hope that these empowerment workshops will help women in Fiji have the confidence to participate in the next elections so that women as a whole have a voice in the tables of decision-making," said Ms Bolenga.
"The Pacific is slowly changing its stance on gender equality and this is a process that will take place gradually as our societies are deeply rooted and steeped in patriarchal practices," she said.