Press Release – femLINKPACIFIC
Improving the overall status of rural women is more than just a social welfare project. It requires the recognition that rural womens needs and concerns including great disparities in income and quality of life.FemLINKPACIFIC Rural Women’s Day 2013: Food Security is more than just food on the table
Improving the overall status of rural women is more than just a social welfare project.
It requires the recognition that rural women’s needs and concerns including great disparities in income and quality of life.
This requires the national development process to be accountable to the specific needs of rural women whether it is communications and infrastructure, economic policies and empowerment programmes, access to education and health services, peace and security.
When the Fiji Government ratified the UN Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination it made a commitment to (Article 14. 1) take into account the particular problems faced by rural women and the significant roles which rural women play in the economic survival of their families, including their work in the non-monetized sectors of the economy, and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the application of the provisions of this Convention to women in rural areas so that rural women will Article 14.2 (h) enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communications
Action to be taken at national level:
• Review national development and poverty reduction strategies alongside the strategic objectives of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Revised Pacific Platform for Action on Women and Poverty to ensure they are aligned;
• National Planning and budget processes must use the evidence available and count all subsistence productive, reproductive and service work of women and men, and girls and boys, and use this as the basis of measurement of GDP and to inform all economic policy-making and investment;
• Ensure national development strategies and budget allocations address the vulnerabilities of livelihood and food insecurity, the burden of disease, and conflict and competition for resources, especially as rural women’s workloads are increasing and most rural communities have to pay higher prices for supermarket goods compared to urban communities;
• Ensure agricultural and fisheries programmes develop policies and practice which recognize, respect and reflect the various roles of women as managers of food security programmes;
• Climate change adaptation programmes must recognize, respect and utilize the knowledge of rural women to support food security programmes;
• Ensure local and divisional governance structures including district and divisional advisory and planning committees have equal representation of women so that development programmes demonstrate substantive consultation and involvement of women in planning, design, implementation and monitoring.
The SPC Beijing+10 Report (2010) highlighted that the increasing workloads of rural women who are taking on more intensive cash-earning work, in addition to household and caring work, affects their health, and rural women are especially vulnerable.
Since 2004 FemLINKPACIFIC has provided an important ‘suitcase radio’ model for women’s media networks. Its successful use of this model has demonstrated that women are able to use media technology to enable rural women and young women to not only access news and information but also produce their own content to highlight their priorities.
In collaboration with UN Women’s Markets for Change Programme and with assistance from the European Union and International Women’s Day FemLINKPACIFIC is putting the focus on rural women in their multiple roles as producers and vendors for Rural Women’s Day 2013.
As a result of September 2013 documentation of 20 market vendors from Nadi, Nausori, Labasa and Suva, in addition to the qualitative and quantitative data collected from January – August 2013 which includes ongoing weekly documentation of the “Market Report” we recommend:
Aside from the need to improve user-pay bathroom and toilet facilities at local markets most market vendors are unable to access regular health facilities let alone afford to buy medicines from the commercial pharmacies.
Losana is a regular at the Nausori Fish Market and unlike other produce vendors who have to pay a standard amount for stall fees, her stall fees is determined by the weight of the seafood she sells. The fees is 30 cents a kilo. Losana works to contribute to the family expenses in particular school expenses for her three daughters still attending school: “Sometimes I don’t have enough money and I have to go shopping I won’t buy flour or rice because I can eat the things my husband farming at home I can eat cassava and dalo – the thing that my husband plant”
He son recently dropped out of school and helps his father on their farm: “When I’m sick I just let my husband to come to the market to help me sell the fish in the market”
Whether it is Salaseini at the Nausori Market or Mohini Lata at the Suva Market, market vendors bear the multiple burden of rural women’s work juggling the housework with other responsibilities as a wife and a mother in her home. Both these women are working more than 12 hours and day in the home and the garden, plantation or sea and rely on their daughters to also invest time at home to assist with domestic chores. Often these young women are also coping with academic studies
Action to be taken at local government level:
Local government decision making processes including market vendor committees must take into account and be inclusive of the specific needs of rural women:
• In our interviews we have found that while market vendors have responded positively to improvements in local markets they would prefer to be more involved in the design and planning of such improvements;
• Market vendor associations must be accountable to women including by ensuring equity in representation and timing of meetings so that more women are able to participate in decision making;
• Provide health services and ensure market toilets and bathrooms are accessible as well as clean at all times;
• Market services should take into account the specific protection issues of women and children especially for those who still have to sleep at the market overnight with their produce
For more information read FemLINKPACIFIC’s monthly Women, Peace and Human Security reports: www.femlinkpacific.org.fj