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Acknowledge our women

Verenaisi Raicola
Thursday, March 08, 2018

Today, March 8, marks International Women's Day (IWD) a global day of celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women the world over and Fiji is no exception.

Surely you'll agree with me that daughters, mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers and women in general have come a long way in the different societies we live in.

The day marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

IWD 2018 campaign theme is PressforProgress.

IWD website says — "Individually, we're one drop but together we're an ocean. Commit to a "gender parity mind-set" via progressive action. Let's all collaborate to accelerate gender parity wherever we are and this should start from our very homes, because our actions and how we treat our women speak volumes".

IWD has occurred for well over a century, and has been supported by over a million people in the world. It has been about campaigning for women equality and today IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere in the world. Now, more than ever, there's a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity.

There's a strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.

It is not about an individual country, group organisation or race. It is a day when women are recognised for their achievements without national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political divisions. History about IWD says it first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the 20th Century in North America and across Europe.

Since those early years, International Women's Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike.

The growing IWD movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women's conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women's rights and participation in the political and economic arenas.

In Fiji, Soqosoqo Vakamarama president Adi Finau Tabakaucoro said women should be given equal opportunities in our societies.

Citing an example she said there should be more women parliamentarians to represent the voices of women, children and our families at that forum.

What a great move that would be as parliament is a legislative, elected body of government where decisions for the country are debated and decided.

Generally, parliament has three functions: representing the electorate, making laws, and overseeing the government. Just imagine what Parliament would be like with more women who are known to make wise and balanced decisions.

These same women are the backbone of our tokatoka, mataqali, yavusa, churches, rural and urban settlements, organisations, businesses, families and homes. At the end of the day I'm sure we agree women are great organisers, planners and budgeters among other things and worth looking up to as beacons of love and hope.

Even our holy books have stories of great women who we still look up today thousands of years later regardless of the different church's and religious groups we belong to because of the examplary lives they lived.

femLINKpacific executive producer-director Sharon Bhagwan Rolls believes women should be treated equally regardless of their personal characteristics including age, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE), primary language, disability, economic status, family status or opinion.

Politician and speaker of parliament who was also the first indigenous Fijian woman to graduate in dentistry from the Fiji School of Medicine in 1967 Dr Jiko Luveni said, "In celebrating IWD, I urge women to take the front seat and press for progress, to utilise the inherent skills that we have to improve the living standards of our families.

A priority therefore is to understand gender and how addressing gender roles in our family members can make a difference in promoting gender equality in our families. Women need to have a cordial relationship with our men to work together in harmony to improve the health and social status of our family members, and this translates to the community and to the nation at large., she said.

Fiji Muslim League Makoi Women's Vocational Training Centre manager Shazna Khan says IWD celebrates the achievement of women and the strength to fight with whatever comes in their way. She added today's woman is independent and self-reliant in every respect and is capable of doing everything.

"This day recognises the importance of women's existence and motivates them for future achievements," Ms Khan said.

Aspiring politician Lenora Qereqeretabua sums it up well when she says women, young and not so young ahould make that conscious decision to #PressForProgress by being part of the change we want to see in our country. "If we women got more involved in the policy making of our country, if more of us used our God-given compassion and passion, our country would be a much safer, cleaner, healthier and happier place to live in.

Fiji Women's Rights Movement stands in solidarity with the global celebrations that are taking place as part of the International Women's Day by paying tribute to the women's movement and its achievements.

So moving foward Fiji let's respect our women through our sisters, mothers, daughters, grandmothers and aunties and ensure they are allowed to be the best people they want to be in whatever God-given areas of life they may be in or want to progress in.

All they ask is to be treated with respect. Let's make that happen as we PressforProgress.

Happy International Women's Day all!

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