Poole launches management practice for women in Suva

Permanent Secretary for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Jennifer Poole, United States Ambassador, Joseph Cella and USP vice-chancellor Prof Pal Ahluwalia with participants at the launch. Picture: SUPPLIED

The COVID-19 situation is affecting women and girls disproportionately, with women at increased risk of infection, intimate partner violence, job losses and vulnerable work scenarios.

This is coupled with limited social protections and less access to formal safety nets, less access to finance and loans, and with increased burden of unpaid care work, loss of livelihoods, and having less access to reproductive health services.

The Permanent Secretary for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Jennifer Poole made this statement at the launching of two all-female cohorts sponsored by the USAID Ready Project to study towards a Certificate IV in Project Management Practice,  in Suva.

USAID’s consultations with partner countries, including Fiji, identified project management as an area requiring improvement to ensure the efficient management of resources and accordingly, this Project Management course targets 50 Fijian women working in government, the private sector and NGOs, based in Suva and Nadi.

United States Ambassador, Joseph Cella said that this Project Management course is specifically for Fijian women to equip them with the skills to better manage projects that mitigate the impacts of climate change and natural disasters in the country.

“The Project Management course is designed to build greater cooperation, as well as generate new ideas, practical tools and techniques that will help Fijian leaders to access and manage international adaptation funds,” he said.

The five-month, professionally accredited course will help leaders strengthen their management skills to design and implement disaster-related and climate change adaptation projects.

Class participants include mid-level managers of government departments, non-governmental organisations, and representatives from the private sector, and is part of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) partnership with the University of the South Pacific to help Pacific Island Countries become more resilient to climate change impacts.

“Our hope is that in the future women from the local private sector and civil society sector, with support from the government, will be able to take the lead in managing current and upcoming investments to help achieve the shared goal of a more prosperous and resilient future for the people of Fiji.”

This is the fourth project management course supported by USAID’s Ready project in Fiji which is the first  specifically for up-skilling women who are project managers or aspire to be project managers in the future.

USAID has been rolling out the course across Pacific Island Countries where more than 400 people have gained an accredited project management qualification, including women and people with disabilities.

Ms Poole said the Fijian Government have made commitments at various levels to improve the quality of lives of women and girls and to uphold their fundamental human rights and, as such  we are accountable at international platforms to ensure fulfillment of these commitments.

“The Fijian Constitution protects the rights of all Fijians, including women, to full and free participation in economic life and the Fijian Government’s 5 & 20 years National Development Plan recognises that the potential of Fijian women ought to be fully harnessed for nation building and commits to promoting women’s leadership, education and overall economic development”.

Fiji’s National Gender Policy outlines several measures to create an enabling environment for the equitable participation of women in the economy.

“The political will of the Fijian Government to achieve the objectives under these various commitments is reflected in the budget allocated to the MWCPA for the National Women’s Machinery, whereby women’s economic empowerment is one of the main thematic agendas in both formal and informal economic sectors”.

Ms Poole told the participants that the COVID-19 situation is affecting women and girls disproportionately, with women at increased risk of infection, intimate partner violence, job losses and vulnerable work scenarios.

“This is coupled with, limited social protections and less access to formal safety nets, less access to finance and loans, and with increased burden of unpaid care work, loss of livelihoods, and having less access to reproductive health services. The Fijian Government agrees that in terms of building back better, women need to be front and center of Fiji’s economic recovery, particularly in burgeoning industries such as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and green sector jobs”.

On behalf of the Fijian Government, PS Poole thanked the United States Government for funding this course, which joins other courses in resilience, project preparation, business continuity planning, green recovery planning and asset management funded by the USAID Ready Project in Fiji.

She also acknowledged the University of the South Pacific for taking a targeted approach and facilitating this course for the women in the region.

USAID Ready  is a five-year regional project that supports Pacific Island countries (PICs) as they adapt to climate change.  USAID Ready works with 11 countries – Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu – to achieve their climate change adaptation goals by assisting them to develop policies and legislation, access climate finance, and build capacity to manage adaptation projects.

A total of 92 people in Fiji have completed the Certificate IV in Project Management Practice sponsored by USAID Ready including 22 women.

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