Gender equality is no longer an option; it is the best chance we have in meeting the most pressing challenges of our time, from climate crisis to economic calamity and gender-based violence.
In her message for International Women’s Day, the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Lynda Tabuya, says the high prevalence of gender-based violence, discriminatory social norms and behaviours, low participation of women in the formal economy, limited access for adolescents to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) information and services, high incidence and mortality rates of cervical and breast cancers, remain challenges for Fiji.
She says she can assert with certainty that the condition of women and girls in Fiji has significantly improved, and its been lauded that Fijian women and girls have made momentous advancements, particularly in the fields of education, maternal mortality, female representation in leadership roles, public awareness and recognition of women's rights, and progressive legislative frameworks.
Tabuya says this year's International Women’s Day theme, “Digit All: Innovation and technology for gender equality” is aligned with the priority theme for the 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women - “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
She says technology plays a critical role in advancing gender equality, particularly in the areas of education, health, and economic development.
The Minister says Fijian women are already leveraging digital connectivity to advocate for social change and inclusion, receiving timely information about impending disasters while also exploring and utilising it to expand their businesses, save time and overcome constraints in accessing information that supports their economic and income-generating activities.
Tabuya says technology can exacerbate existing gender inequalities if not designed and implemented with a gender lens.
She says we shall commit as a nation to prevent and stop (online and technology-facilitated) sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and discrimination.
The Minister further says it is unacceptable that women and girls continue to face violence and discrimination in the digital space.
She adds that we must ensure that technology works for all Fijian women and girls and not against them.
She says we must ensure access to affordable and available technology in particular for rural women.
Tabuya also says we must prioritise safety, security, and dignity in all our efforts to harness the potential of technology for social and economic development.
The Minister says we must ensure that women and girls of all diversity have the skills and knowledge to use digital tools effectively and safely.
She says we must open the doors of possibility and unleash the potential of every woman and girl, inspiring future generations to pursue their dreams and make their mark in the world of science and technology.
Tabuya says we must create a culture of innovation that is inclusive, sustainable, diverse, and gender-responsive.
The Minister has called on Fijians to stand firm and press on “Generation Equality” for a brighter and equal future for all women and girls.
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