NEWS

Budget Boosts For Our Women

The Bainimarama Government’s drive to ensure women are treated fairly and equally in a better Fiji continues. The latest step is doing away with archaic policies from the past which
27 Nov 2014 13:50
Budget Boosts For Our Women
Some of the Year 13 graduates of Adi Cakobau School (ACS), after the school’s prizegiving ceremony yesterday. Photo: Jona Konataci

The Bainimarama Government’s drive to ensure women are treated fairly and equally in a better Fiji continues.

The latest step is doing away with archaic policies from the past which did not foresee career female diplomats with young children.

Addressing this is included in Finance Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s transformative 2015 budget.

$50,000 has been allocated for day-care creche services which would be made available for toddlers of female diplomats posted overseas.

This is a breakthrough from policies which previously overlooked the possibility that young career minded women could further diplomatic careers without having to choose between work and family.

Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Mr Sayed-Khaiyum explained that this allocation and subsequent policy changes are in line with Government efforts to provide women opportunities to further their career.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said: “So far all Government policies right from the 1970s, since Independence have been fairly antiquated. Because there’s an assumption that it will be men who will be posted overseas and that if there are going to be children, young babies and toddlers, the wives will stay home and look after them.”

There was no provision for crèche services because of the assumption that the husbands are the ones posted and wives stay home.

“This policy has no place in the 21st century and the fact we now have female career diplomats and females are posted to these positions, it was critical that Government review this policy,” he said.

“This is a great breakthrough, of course, because it does encourage women to pursue a career in diplomatic field.

“But the system must always be there to encourage them to do so. If the system is going to discriminate against them because they are women and they can fall pregnant and have babies, then obviously, it would be a discouraging fact.

“As far as Government is concerned, it is not simply a question of allocating monies but also a question of changing various policies, regulations and laws that allow and give the space for women to pursue their careers.”

And, that is not all.

Some of the other allocations in 2015 budget include:

n $160,000 to Fiji Women’s Federation to help coordinate programmes;

n and $500,000 for the Fiji Women’s Expo.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said with Government focussing on merit based appointment, a noted increase in women being hired has been seen.

He said: “With Government’s initiatives and focus on merit based appointments, you will see that the ministries which have fully embraced this have high proportion of women.”

Government is keen on focussing on five thematic areas for women:

– formal sector and livelihood,

– equal participation in decision-making,

– eliminating violence

– access to basic services and the law.

– obligation on doctors and teachers to report suspected violence.

Women are also encouraged to get involved in small and medium enterprises.

The Domestic Violence Decree is another way in which Government has ensured women and children are protected.

Further to this, the Family Law Amendment Act now recognises defacto relationships, which gives women living with their defacto partners rights of a wife in terms of properties, spousal maintenance etc.

Interestingly, when the Family Law Act was first being worked and debated on, certain women rights organisations gave in to pressures. They agreed to have defacto relationships removed from the finalised version of the Act.

Decades later, it took decisive leadership by the Bainimarama Government to have this included in the amendment.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 




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