Need for more concerted action on gender

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa (left) and Roshika Deo (right) during the UNHR Multi-Stakeholders' consultations at the Holiday Inn Suva. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

GOVERNMENT needs to step up and ensure deeper and more concerted action to meet it’s duties to protect people and address harms when business activities fall below human rights standards, says Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa.

Mrs Vuniwaqa, while officiating at the opening of the multi stakeholders consultation on Gender Lens to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights at the Holiday Inn Suva, yesterday, said the task of ensuring respect for human rights was too important to be left to governments alone.

“In this time of rising concerns, we count on you to take up the human rights agenda, and help us continue to build an inclusive business society that sits on a strong human rights platform,” she said.

Mrs Vuniwaqa urged business leaders to know that responsible businesses cannot thrive in failing societies, where tension spikes and communities bristle with grievances and mutual contempt.

“Strong civil societies, due process, equality and justice: these are what enable real economic empowerment. By maintaining business practices that are free from human rights abuses across
your supply chains, you know that you can both uphold your own corporate reputation and contribute powerfully to greater stability and a better business environment everywhere you operate.”

She also said by taking action to combat discrimination, inequality, xenophobia, violence and hate, business leaders could help to build societies that were more inclusive, cohesive and strong.

“By moving forward in the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; by taking steps to uphold the rights of workers and communities affected by your  operations; and by standing up for people whose rights are at risk, you can enrich societies — financially, and in their deeper values.”

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