NEWS

Female Representation Is Key: Vaurasi

Ms Rokomokoti also paid tribute to three women serving in senior ranks of full Lieutenants and Colonels in the Republic of Fiji Military Forces:
09 Mar 2019 19:29
Female Representation Is Key: Vaurasi
Fiji Law Society president Laurel Vaurasi. Photo: Jyoti Pratibha

Laurel Vaurasi has joined the chorus of women and organi­sations on the importance of gender equality and female represen­tation across key institutions in the country.

The President of the Fiji Law Society, was addressing the Fiji Women’s Law­yers Association as they celebrated International Women’s Day on Friday at the Reserve Bank of Fiji.

Her speech was in line with this year’s theme: Balance for better, bet­ter the balance, better the world.

In attendance were prominent wom­en from the judiciary including Jus­tice Seini Puamau, Justice Geethani Wijesinghe, and Justice Sufia Hamza.

Ms Vaurasi outlined figures that re­vealed disparity of female in key deci­sion making positions within Parlia­ment, the Government, in law firms and within the judiciary.

She spoke on the importance for men to support and recognise gender bal­ance and to value the contribution that women add to the society, their families and the business sectors.

Ms Vaurasi said the truth was that the bar was set at a different level for a woman to succeed which shouldn’t be the case.

She encouraged women to take on greater leadership roles to take own­ership and start on an awareness of change to make the difference which starts at home.

Tribute to women

The acting Head of School of Ac­counting and Law, Fiji National Uni­versity, Ana Rokomokoti spoke on the notion that women were to be treated with equity.

Equity being the quality of being fair and impartial and based on the princi­ples of justice.

She called on employers, decision-makers and people in influential posi­tions to take the courageous step and better the balance in male dominated areas.

Ms Rokomokoti also paid tribute to three women serving in senior ranks of full Lieutenants and Colonels in the Republic of Fiji Military Forces:

Colonel Litea Seruiratu, Lieutenant-Colonel Laisani Kinikini and Lieutenant-Colonel Silipa Vanana­lagi

She further acknowledged the late Phobe Mills, Frances Lilian Charlton, Irene Jai Narayan and Taufa Vakatale.

The rise of women

The Dean of the School of Law, Uni­versity of Fiji, Shaista Shameem, who is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, spoke of the revolutionary women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s in Fiji.

Here, women took the radical step in their involvement in the ‘Burning the Bra’ movement which subsequently transformed into the feminist politics and radical Women’s Studies Move­ment of the 1980s.

“During this time Women’s Studies and Feminist Studies university pro­grammes proliferated in many of the western countries but was embraced by the early feminists of Fiji as the intersection of race class and gender, recognising that all inequity was re­lated and needed to be eradicated in unison,” she said.

Professor Shameem said that it was this movement that inspired her and other women like her in Fiji to delve more deeply into the academic and in­tellectual study of women’s issues in society.

Recently, actor Emma Watson had de­livered an important speech in which she had offered the ‘He for She’ slogan as a way of realising that the situa­tion of women in society. For example in pay disparity, in violence against them, in their under-representation in politics and public life, was men’s responsibility to eradicate as well as women’s duty.

She said that men were not free as long as women were disadvantaged.

Professor Shameem said that every person in Fiji had to develop their own personal legend, and offered the three key points of this as development of the self through the community.

The three attributes of Integrity (ethical conduct), Advocacy for the public good, and Mana (the Pacific Is­land word for power, prestige and ef­fectiveness).

These three attributes were aspects of the 21st century development of freedom from harm and liberation that echoed the beliefs of the early women’s movement throughout the world.

Honouring women

In many organisations on Friday, employers also took the time to hon­our and thank the women for their work and contribution towards the company.

Elsewhere in the country, women and supporters took to the streets in solidarity to promote the movement, Reclaim the Night.

The march is significant in that it is the protest against violence against women. The march was the culmina­tion of the day’s event.

Land Transport Authority

Meanwhile, the Land Transport Au­thority chief executive officer Samuel Simpson said they were indebted to the women staff for their dedicated service to the authority.

“We are proud that 40 per cent of the LTA workforce is made up of women and as an equal opportunities employ­er we look forward to the many Fijian women of talent joining us in Steering Fiji Safely and contributing to the pos­itive development of Fiji as a nation,” Mr Simpson said.

“Our women staff are engaged at all levels within the authority, many in highly specialised roles making a valued contribution to the work of the authority.”

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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