FIJI has a high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections and teenage pregnancies caused by risk factors which include unsafe sex, says Director of the Department of Women Arieta Moceica.
And most of those who contract the HIV/AIDS virus do so through heterosexual sex, added Ms Moceica during the opening of a three-day workshop for family planning agents on Sexual Reproductive Health Training for Family Planning Agents.
"Globally and in Fiji today, girls and young women are now receiving messages of empowerment; they realise that they do have a right to decide what is done to their bodies," she said.
"The messages are clearly preached through the formal schooling system and through the programs of government and NGOs — women's bodies are no longer just for the pleasure of men.
"Women have a right to say no to unwanted sex and the right to negotiate safe sex and the right to decide the number and spacing of their children."
Ms Moceica said the ministries of Health and Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation had been trying to increase people's knowledge on the subjects of reproductive health as well as sexually transmitted infections.
She said 85 per cent of the 493 people living with HIV/AIDS contracted the virus through heterosexual sex while 2.5 per cent of the total figure was through male to male sex and in most cases it was the iTaukei ethnic group that made up the majority of the cases of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Most of those living with the virus are between the age groups of 20 and 29.
Thirty leaders of various women's groups from areas where women's resources centre are built are attending the workshop.
They will be able to share what they have learnt from the workshop in their different communities.