Weekender

Fiji women’s programme recognised

Written By :
17 Jun 2011 12:00

image Written By : Source: KOICA. The Government’s programmes and strategiesfor socioeconomic empowerment of women as mandated in the Roadmap for Democracy Sustainable Socio-Economic Development (2009 to 2014) has been recognised at the recent, “Women Entrepreneurship Development” training organised in Seongnam, Korea.
The 19 days training held from (May 19 to June 3, 2011) was facilitated by Korean International Co-operation Centre (KOICA) and International Women and Family Foundation (IWFF) for the participating countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Fiji, Cambodia, Nepal and Bolivia) to learn about the different women empowerment programmes in each countries and most importantly to have a exposure on some of the best entrepreneurship programmes in Korea.
During the training each of the participating country was required to present their country report highlighting on major women empowerment programs and alsoprepare an action plan to boost the women entrepreneurship opportunities in their own countries.
Fiji has been recognized and awarded in the first category for creativity in its empowerment programs for women.
Mr Young Saing Kim, Research Fellow at the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training also has been teaching at Korea University, foremost reiterated that Fiji Government’s efforts to strengthen relations with NGOs through Fiji Women’s Federation (FWF) will be the cornerstone in fostering a co-ordinated approach to have greater impact of women empowerment programmes and develop networks both locally and internationally.
He also commended Fiji’s perseverance to provide appropriate income generating programs based on the needs of the women in particular the 15 poultry projects to be diversified with vegetable farming to boost women’s financial earnings and help them walk out of poverty.
But perhaps the most significant stand point for Fiji is the introduction of computers to rural women including women farmers through the women centers in 14 provinces.
The Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni’s perseverance to open up new economic opportunities for women through the Women Resource Centers and her vision to develop a Women’s Headquarters to co-ordinate women activities with Technical and Vocational Training facilities and training programmes all provided under one roof will be key to unlock the untapped economic opportunities for women and createthe platform to develop many potential women entrepreneurs in Fiji.
According to Mr Young Saing Kim, these strategies will open up economic opportunities for women particularly in the tourism market and Fiji will be a source of motivation for the rest of the countries in the Pacific Island to develop women as agents of socioeconomic development.

Women Entrepreneurship Policies and
Programmes in South Korea
The images of Taegeukgi flag, sight of tall sky scrapers,sirens of busy traffic and shuttle buses,taste of kimchi and aroma of green tea are some of the unforgettable memories one gets to experience inKorea.
Apart from these experiences, what makes Korea stands out in the global history is that it is one of the countries which has remarkably recovered from the economic turmoil caused by World War in 19th century. With support from International Monetary Fund (IMF), Korea once known to be world’s poorest agrarian societies is now the focal point of a powerful Asian economic hub, thereinbecoming one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
In Korea this achievement is referred to as, “Miracle on the Hangang River” that describes the journey of rapid economic growth in South Korea following the Korean War.
Through the training “Women Entrepreneurship Development” it was revealed that from 1962 to 2007, Korea’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased from US$2.3 billion to US$969.9 billion and the catch is for the last five years women have made up 50 per cent of the labor market whereinthe Korean Government recognises women as important agentsofprogressive economic growth.
However one of the major challenges faced is the economic participation of Korean women decreases in the ages of 25 to 34 so called the M shaped curve, career discontinuance due to child care responsibilities.

Women friendly companies
The Korean Government has implemented appropriate strategies and programs not only to address this challenge but most importantly create a platform for gender equality and women empowerment for both urban and rural women.
One of the successful strategies for promoting gender equality undertaken by the Government is the introduction of the Women Friendly Workplace policies.
The concept of the Women Friendly is viewed with four aspects of business ethics on fairness, employment equality and work family balance based on the notion of social responsibility, cultivation of female talent and women friendly organisational structure.
The Korean Government provides certification to women friendly companies and also facilitates educational programs for CEO’s (chief executive officers) to be aware about the importance of women friendly work practices.
A total of 30 companies in Korea have embraced the Women Friendly Workplace policy and one of them is Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC).
The Human Resource Manager for IIAC Ms Ji-Sook Kim revealed that since the implementation of Women Friendly Work practice the company has increased job opportunities for women with the female workforce accounting for 50 per cent of the new hires between 2006 to 2010.
The company has also provided a child care support service, leadership training, health facilities and educational support for the employees children.
According to Ms Kim, “women friendly work practices increases business competitiveness for productivity and also supports the career development for both male and females.”
A successful model for women entrepreneurship development in Korea is also found at the Mapo Employment and Welfare Support Centre which not only assists the disadvantaged women including single mothers to be trained in different income generating programmes.
About 50 women who registered through the center are trained in bakery, sewing, cleaning, care giving and cooking.
These are tailor made programs and the center has training facilities including one coffee shop, a dressing shop and a flower shop, a restaurantand a computer lab all under one roof. Some of the women trainees are absorbed into employment at these shops while others are assisted in finding jobs through centers network with commercial companies.
Portion of the money earned from the shops is also contributed towards assisting the women trainees to start their own business.

E-Commerce for women
One of the major key to success for Korea women entrepreneurs both in the formal and non-formal sector is the power of technology.
The women farmers in Korea are few in number but have successfully established themselves as entrepreneurs because of E-Commerce.
The Ministry of Agriculture has implemented the following ICT programmes for farmers including women farmers:
n Mobile computer education: A special bus equipped with computer facilities visits farm households, and assist women farmers who live in remote areas with little access to proper education equipment, as well as those who cannot afford to leave their workplace.
n Rural ICT 119”: Farmers make a telephone call when having trouble with their computers, and agricultural college students visit the households for assistance.
n Building personal home pages for farmers: This would reduce the marketing margin.
n -106, 306, 506 websites were built in 1999, 2000, 2001 respectively.

Success story of Korean women
One of the success stories that appealed to me most is about a group of five women in the Gangwon-do province running a small business known as, “Gubang Korea traditional sweets and Cookies.”
The beauty about this story is that these five women use their traditional Korean sweets making skills and rice to make delicious rice cookies and sweets.
They started this business six years ago and it has been sustainable given there is good market for the traditional sweets. Having established a brand name for their products the women have also expanded their market in other Asian countries.
The women even invite customers to taste their products and also go to the extent of marketing their products during national events and festivals in Korea and guess what they make about $1 million a year.


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