Women empowerment

Women and children of Lutu village in Wainibuka. Picture: ATU RASEA

WOMEN empowerment comes in different forms and one of the different empowerment approaches for women today in rural settings is through creativity.

Creativity not only gives women the opportunity to create things, but also empowers them to generate income that can sustain them in difficult situations.

Creativity is one of the major tools that the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation is using to draw out talents that were once hidden deep within village dwellings.

Visit a village and you will be amazed at the level of creativity that women are now exposed to whether it’s from weaving mats, sewing, screen printing different designs and even pottery.

These simple artesian factors have contributed immensely to women sustaining themselves in village setting and it continues to grow with more women now investing into their artesian creativity.

According to the budget estimates through the Department of Women, the Ministry is responsible for providing Fijian women and girls, particularly those in rural communities, with the skills and education they need to participate as equal members in society.

With a budget allocation of $133 million in the 2018-2019 National Budget, the Ministry is able to continue empowering women through workshops, craft shows and the annual national women’s expo.

Lutu Village women are among those that work in harmony to support their household and most of them share their knowledge and skills of artesian work during their women’s club meetings.

Soqosoqo ni Marama (Women’s club) president for Lutu Village, Ekila Taumoli said every week the women of Lutu Village meet to discuss developments occurring within the soqosoqo (club).

There are 84 women who are part of the Soqosoqo ni Marama in Lutu Village. “We have noticed that when women work together and share their ideas, the community in which they live in grows and develops,” she said.

“Women who are skilled with artesian work like weaving or sewing share what they know with women who do not have the skills.

“This way knowledge is shared and relationships are built upon trusting each other.

“This is why village settings are different because villagers maintain this understanding with utmost respect and women are then awarded for their creativity.

“We make sure that women are awarded with prizes for what they create, this way it motivates them to think outside the box.”

She said they needed young women to show interest in weaving and sewing because it’s one of the best ways they could sustain themselves when at home.

“The women get a chance to market their ware at various craft shows like the province celebration held every year at Syria Park in Nausori and some women from around the province get a chance to also showcase their work at the National Women’s Expo.”

She said it was important for women to support each other in order to move forward.