Achieving gender equality is vital to economic development and to realising the full potential of women, men, girls and boys. It is a vital human right. Australia is strongly committed to working with the international community to advance the rights of women and girls across the world.
In Fiji, for example, traditional norms and customs are embedded in patriarchal structures that often sideline women from decision-making and formal planning. As seen worldwide, discriminatory practices, legislative and policy biases and unequal access to resources and services perpetuates such sidelining further. This is contrary to international commitments and legislation.
Fortunately, gender equality is a priority of the Government of Fiji, which Australia supports.
Through the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development program, Australia will commit $26 million over 10 years (2012-2020) to help address gender inequality in Fiji.
Australia’s funding will support four outcome areas under Fiji’s country plan:
- increasing women in leadership and decision-making
- enhancing women’s economic empowerment
- eliminating violence against women, and
- enabling change through coalition building.
Australia will give support through women’s civil society organisations, multilateral, regional and Australian organisations, as well as the Government of Fiji (through the Fiji Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation’s Department of Women).
An example of where Australia’s support has made a difference is through partnership with the South Pacific Academy of Beauty Therapy. Through this support, 24 women from low socioeconomic backgrounds graduated in December 2016 with a Certificate IV in Spa and Beauty Therapy. All 24 women graduates have secured employment and are either working in resort spas across Fiji or running their own business.