Editorial comment – Massive challenge

Australia's deputy high Commissioner to Fiji Anne Dorney (left ) with Dr Vijaya Nagarajan of Macquarie University in Sydney , Australia during the Pacific Women Regional Learning Forum on Women's Economic Empowerment at the University of the South Pacific in Suva. Picture: ARIETA VAKASUKAWAQA

IT IS unfortunate that women have become victims of gender-based violence because of their participation in economic empowerment in Fiji.

The revelation was made by an Australian academic.

Dr Vijaya Nagarajan of the Macquarie University in Sydney highlighted this issue while addressing the Pacific Women Regional Learning Forum on Women’s Economic Empowerment at the University of the South Pacific in Suva this week.

Gender-based violence, she said, not only comes because of relationships, but it can also be caused by questioning the hierarchy and rocking the boat.

Sometimes, she said, it ends up unintentional and irritates people.

She said it could make women feel powerless rather than feeling powerful.

Gender-based violence, she said, could affect people’s lives in so many ways and it’s becoming more obvious in our society today.

She said, in Fiji, 6.6 per cent of its GDP amounting to $500 million annually was what gender-based violence cost.

Dr Nagarajan believes such issues can affect the economic terms of a nation and something needs to be done about it.

Gender-based violence, she said, because people feel in some way threatened, developing a core pace of economic life threatens core values.

“The way to cure this is to give people a place, space and voice, so it needs to be a joint journey between men and women.

Unfortunately this is something women cannot do on their own because they need their husbands and sons.”

The revelation will no doubt inch out concern.

It is important though that we become part of the solution and initiate a change in mindsets.

The onus is on the powers that be, and on every Fijian to embrace the need to encourage our women, and empower them to rise to challenges.

It is sad that there is a link between victims of gender-based violence and their participation in economic empowerment in Fiji.

Women have as much right to equal opportunities in every facet of life, and for leadership at all levels of decision-making in our country, whether it is in politics, or any other industry.

Change is inevitable.

We have a massive challenge before us to assist in developing a society that embraces women for who they are, and we should acknowledge their contribution.

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