WOMEN are being recognised for playing a pivotal role in sustaining livelihoods in communities and villages.
This was the view expressed by Minister for Women Dr Jiko Luveni at a workshop for Fiji's solar engineers and village solar committees held in Suva yesterday.
The workshop was focused on helping 10 solar engineers who recently graduated from Barefoot College to better understand their roles in setting up solar equipment in their villages.
Dr Luveni said government recognised the critical role women played in any development be it at the institutional, community or national level.
"Government has continued to provide income-generating opportunities and empowerment programs to economically empower women with special priority placed on rural women," Dr Luveni said.
"In the past five years, government has increased the budget allocation for women empowerment programs from $300,000 in 2008 to $1.01million in 2013."
She said with the concerted efforts of all stakeholders including the development partners, women were being recognised for their role in the rural areas.
"The training of rural women with limited education to become solar engineers was unheard of in Fiji and every phase of this project attracted public interest."
Dr Luveni said the two-day workshop was to get solar engineers and solar committees to develop individual solar installation work plans for their 10 villages.
Solar engineer Miriama Moceiwasa of Naioti Village in Kadavu said the workshop gave them an opportunity to re-look at what they had learned from India and how it would help the villagers understand solar energy.
Mrs Moceiwasa said they were waiting for the solar equipment to arrive in the village so they could install it.
"We have 29 households in Naioti Village that will benefit from this solar project," she said.