International Women's Day Message
Monday 8th March 2021
Today, we honour our women, but this reverence should not be confined to a single day -- it must become embedded as a societal norm, that the nation cannot function without them, on equal footing, unless they are at the table.
For far too long Fiji has continued to shamelessly lag behind on protecting and promoting women's rights and their peacebuilding expertise.
On this day, we need to be reminded that women are doubly burdened with covid19 impacts, a depressed economy, unemployment, poverty and hardship.
They face the brunt of these challenges, because they lift up so many others in their households and communities in these hard times -- children, elders, the sick and the vulnerable.
There is not one instance or story of hardship and sadness in Fiji, that will not have a woman in the middle of it, striving against the odds to raise others up, and putting their needs last. We know these stories all too well also from watching our mother's, sisters, aunts, cousins and grandmothers in our formative years.
It is to our collective shame when our national statistics continuously tell us and our next generation, a running story of inhumane injustice and atrocities where our women are concerned. The statistics must no longer tell a story that normalizes the disrespect and disempowerment of women. This is why we need more women at the table of national leadership.
In honour of International Women’s Day 2021, the NFP will pledge to actively advocate for temporary special measures and reserve quotas in Parliament, to uphold a 30% target of women representation, as was pledged by Fiji all the way back in 1995.
Women will not choose to come to the table of national leadership if they are shackled by day-to-day worries, and Fiji must honour their capabilities by setting a national temporary target in the electoral laws, to even up the playing field.
Political parties and all other institutions will naturally align to a legal target like this.
It is time to DO what is right, instead of mouthing off empty platitudes where our women are concerned.
Hon. Biman Prasad