Rakiraki, Tavua and Ba, Fiji celebrated International Women’s Day!

rkrk24_smallMany of you may have been in NYC to celebrate the 20th anniversary of BPFA and the International Women’s Day as part of the global-local celebrations. We did it here in Fiji, too.

map_cropedScroll a map and come down to the South Pacific, then zoom in five times, you will see Rakiraki, Tavua and Ba on the northern part of Viti Levu, Fiji. We had ‘hand-made’ women’s day events in those towns with local market vendors.

UN agencies have been providing financial training and access to financial services to local market vendors. A project, Markets 4 Change started training sessions on financial and business first steps in all municipal markets in Fiji last year.

MVs-orange_no creditThis time, coinciding with the International Women’s Day, had purple flavor in the training sessions.

At Rakiraki market we wanted to make an ‘empower women’ banner in their three languages, Fijian, Hindi and English. Fijian women took lead and started painting it on the purple cloth we brought. Hindi speaking women were asking their male colleagues around, how to say ‘empower women’ in Hindi, in Hindi. A young man from uni who came to buy tomatoes got involved, too. They came up with a phrase and brought a man to paint it on the cloth. Finally, a woman talented in calligraphy drew “EMPOWER WOMEN” in English on the last line.

rkrk9_smallAt the beginning of the training session in Rakiraki, a group of women came forward and shared a song about women’s empowerment in Hindi. They also gave a message: women have power – it depends on a woman how her family goes well or bad. It was not on the programme but a spontaneous action they took, which brought a very positive mode to the session.

rkrk41_smallNext training was in Tavua. ‘Prominent women in Tavua’ were invited . Two heads of Tavua – Town Council CEO and District Officer are both women. Together with a representative from a UN agency, a medical doctor, a nurse and an officer from the Ministry of Women, all are women based in Tavua, joined and cut a ‘women’s day’ cake. No celebration, no gathering can go without a cake in Fiji.

tva21_smallBa was the last place for this training/ IWD roadshow. More men than in other places came to participate in the session, which was lovely because all participants including those men, made commitment to supporting empowerment of women by tying purple strings on their lists each other.

ba23_smallThe ‘empower women’ banner was completed by putting ‘Tavua’ and ‘Ba’ on it. We left it there in Ba in the building for women vendors’ accommodation and handicraft centre.

The training round one has been completed in those markets. The training will continue for the round two.

Thank you all who joined the training and the women’s day events!