Devi stands out despite setback

Sunita Devi at the International Women's Day celebrations in Nadi. Picture: SHAYAL DEVI

Sunita Devi at the International Women's Day celebrations in Nadi. Picture: SHAYAL DEVI

INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day was celebrated last week in many different ways across the country.

And in the Western Division, one woman relayed her experience — including the obstacles she had to overcome just to earn a living.

Sunita Devi has been a vendor at the Nadi Municipal Market for the past 17 years.

Apart from being one of the oldest fruit and vegetable traders in the Jet Set Town, she is also one of the most recognised women because of a physical disability.

Two years ago, part of her right leg was amputated because of an infection. Despite her limited mobility, she decided to continue working as a market vendor.

“I’ve been selling for quite a long time and this is what I love doing,” the 49-year-old said.

“I had an old injury and my leg kept aching and when it got really bad, I knew my leg had to be amputated.

“I was sick for about a year and I stopped coming to the market, but once I got better, I knew I had to return.”

She was one of 13 female vendors who commemorated International Women’s Day at the market, an event, supported by UN Women.

Rural women vendors also shared their experiences of selling at the market.

Nadi Town Council CEO Peter Dinning commended the women for their tireless efforts in contributing to the Nadi and national economy.

He said women needed to be provided opportunities and sustainable growth without discrimination.

Meanwhile, a similar event in Lautoka attracted about 13 women.

Vendors from across the division participated in a training conducted under UN Women’s Markets for Change project.

Acting project manager in Fiji, Preeya Leli, said women members of the Lautoka Market Vendors Association were trained on a number of disciplines.

This included leadership and negotiation, gender, conflict resolution, customer service and finance.

“The women represented both urban and rural vendors from the province of Ra, the highlands of Nadroga and interior Ba as well as a representative who uses the women’s accommodation centre at the Lautoka market,” she said.

“UN Women Markets for Change Project in partnership with the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) will provide training to both market vendors associations and the municipal council staff.”

The vendors were also presented with their certificates at the conclusion of training.

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