Minister Kumar defends statement on women empowerment

Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Local Government, Housing and Community Development, Premila Kumar with New Zealand High Commissioner Jonathan Curr and Reserve Bank of Fiji governor Ariff Ali during the International Women's Day celebration at the Reserve Bank of Fiji board room in Suva on Friday, March 08, 2019. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

MINISTER for Industry and Trade Premila Kumar says the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre had taken out of context her views on women empowerment at a Fiji Institute of Accountants event earlier this week.

In a statement, centre director Shahima Ali claimed the minister had made comments on women to stop accusing men of their lack of achievement.

She said such comments were highly inappropriate and depicted the lack of understanding of problems faced by women in our community.

“Challenging women to work harder will not resolve the issue of women’s development as, in reality, most women work extremely hard to please everyone – at home, outside, community, and workplace,” Ms Ali said.

“It is really sad to hear comments of this nature during the week of International Women’s Day when we should be celebrating the advancement and achievement of women and encouraging more dialogue in favour of gender equality.”

Speaking at the International Women’s Day event at the Reserve Bank of Fiji in Suva yesterday, Mrs Kumar defended herself and said the problem was that the women NGO was not present at the event to know the truth in her statement.

“I know there is a problem going on based on a statement I made during the Fiji Institute of Accountants. The NGO for women has got it all wrong because they weren’t there to hear the whole story, we were talking about our women in leadership, we were not talking about any other aspects of women, just women in leadership,” the Minister said.

“I was sharing my experience, not anyone else’s and the context in which I have talked about women have to work harder is only related to the self-confidence. They have to work harder onĀ self-esteem. They have to work harder to put their hand up. That was the connotation,” Mrs Kumar said.

Ms Ali has, however, recommended all MPs and other leaders to undergo gender sensitivity and human rights awareness programs.

(This story was also contributed by ROHIT DEO)

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