Last week I received an email which contained the photo of a child with an enlarged posterior and the caption read that face book was going to contribute funds to help in the surgery of the child.
Every so often we meet someone in the streets with a note saying that he or she has a medical ailment and that he or she needs our donation.
When I encounter such individuals my first question is always where are the family members as we in the Pacific pride ourselves as being very family oriented and the family is often as big as a village or even as wide as a whole vanua ,district or province.
The concept of family is nothing new to all races living in Fiji but a sad thing that is happening now is the tendency to think that "that is not my responsibility".
In the olden days I was told that what happened in one house was known by all in the village or settlement..you may call it coconut wireless or being busy bodies but such was the climate in our rural communities.
As more Fijian families moved to urban areas and as the new academics and well to do young Fijians became more rooted in the urban areas, their values became more western in that they now became independent, minded their own business and it was rude to poke your nose into other people's business.
Don't get me wrong..I like the idea of minding your own business but what gets my goat is the fact that some have also likened this to shirking your responsibility and not looking after your olds, your extended family and even your neighbours.
Well today, I will just poke my nose into some people's business even though I was taught to mind my own...
The business that I will be looking at is the business of women's role and how today most of the work done by women is often overlooked or not even mentioned in the state's budget, in any policies or in the calculations for what percentage of work is done by women and what compensation should be given to them to appreciate their effort.
OK, what are you talking about you might say, and my response is that it is high time that the Social Security needs of women living and working in the rural areas are met...single women, divorced women, widowed women who continue to do all the housework in the farms and contribute to the state of the nation's economy in all the work they do.
Some weed the gardens, feed the chickens, do the laundry, feed the families, feed the household and farm animals, look after families and not to mention the wives who also contribute in other forms. Whatever work is done by women, the issue is that these women are not considered when there is social security policies or benefits given.
These women can not claim for any form of compensation as their contribution is often left unsaid and unnoticed so they work so hard and do everything and at the end of each day feel so exhausted yet when their contribution is measured in terms of the nations GDP or if there was a tax claim or compensation claim they will not qualify as they do not own anything, do not do any meaningful farm work nor earn any meaningful income..
The state and all policy makers do not realise that without these women there would be no farmers, no food on the table, no healthy children and no future and food for Fiji which banks on the rural community of Fiji to feed us.
Imagine if all the women living in rural areas went on strike and decided not to wake up one morning to feed the animals or their men folk, wash, cook, clean, keep house and do all the menial tasks that people often take for granted?
Imagine if they decided to go on leave and all went away on a holiday or for a month's leave.
Oh if only that were possible but as you and I both know ... most of the time these women do not even have the resources to leave their communities and most often they get sick, struggle to go to the markets to sell food for their families and unless they are helped, they will always be unfairly discriminated against because what they do is not considered important.
So what is your point you might ask and my point is this. Women in the informal sector should be considered in the formulation of policies.
These women look after the welfare of the farmers and the community they live in as well as indirectly contribute to the welfare of the nation through the provision of agricultural products and bi-products for the consumption of our nation as well as in the economy of our nation.
These women need discounts for medical benefits and education benefits for both themselves and even for their children.
Most work hard in order to be able to send their children to school but at the end of the day even making ends meet is a difficult situation.
Maybe it is time that we stopped all the rhetoric and sweet talk and really put our money where our mouth is and realise that Article 14 of CEDAW states that "State Parties shall take into account the particular problems faced by rural women and the significant roles which rural women play in the economic survival of their families, including their work in the non-monetiSed sectors of the economy, and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the application of the provisions of the Convention to women in rural areas."
Maybe CEDAW could be seriously incorporated into our nation's constitution or certain tenets of CEDAW to correctly interpreted and inserted into policies relating to services for women.
Fiji is at an exciting time as we pave the way for the future generations. It can also be seen as a time to uplift the livelihood of all and yes lets really walk the talk...
nFay Volatabu is the General Secretary of the National Council of Women. The views are hers and not of this newspaper.