Respect, acknowledgement for our women

Chief guest Minister for Woman Mereseini Vuniwaqa (middle) with other guests and graduates during the Makoi Vocational Centre graduation yesterday. Picture: RAMA

TODAY is a special day for women around the world. Today is International Women’s Day.

To sort of get our bearings, today is about commemorating the struggle for women’s rights, which was first held in 1909 in New York.

Last year hundreds of people joined a march to reclaim the night in Suva.

It was organised by the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre to advocate against rape in the country.

On this day last year, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) executive director Nalini Singh said sexual violence was everybody’s business and change could only begin by education and raising awareness.

Ms Singh spoke during a creative art performance organised by the FWRM to commemorate International Women’s Day at the University of the South Pacific’s Laucala Bay campus in Suva.

She said Fijians should recognise the deeply-entrenched patriarchy in our cultures and religion and the systematic barriers women and girls faced.

Sexual violence, she said, was a grave, cruel and severe breach of human rights that left long-term psychological and physical damage.

Women must not accept violence.

During celebrations in 2017, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said it was time to appreciate women’s contribution to society.

Domestic violence in Fiji, he said at the time, was too common.

Mr Bainimarama urged men to join in the national campaign of ending violence against women and children.

Let us embrace International Women’s Day.

Let us remind ourselves about the many niggling issues that we must address.

But why should we even confine the recognition and celebration of the achievement of women to this day?

Why can’t we do this every day?

Today is an opportunity for us to relook at our priorities.

Let’s acknowledge the role of women in our lives.

Let’s embrace and highlight their achievements, and focus on ways to assist them reach their goals.

Let’s pull back all stops and assist our women realise their dreams.

They each have hopes and aspirations.

They obviously yearn for ways to improve and develop their lives.

We must endeavour to empower our women.

Abuse cases and domestic violence are real.

Let’s face that reality and show a united front to fight it.

If there is a plethora of advice, and support for the cause of our women, then this has to be buoyed by our commitment.

Our women have a right to be heard.

How we move forward to address worrying issues is really up to us.

Today should be about respect and acknowledegment of the important roles our women play in our lives.

Let’s place that on the highest pedestal.

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