Going commercial and setting up businesses

Minister for Women Mereseini Vuniwaqa is being assisted by Fisheries offi cer Isikeli Odrovakavula during the Women In Fisheries Forum at Paradiso Restaurant in Suva yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

WOMEN in Fiji, and similarly in other Pacific Island countries are increasingly moving away from traditionally defined areas of fisheries participation and are taking on commercial and post-harvest activities, and setting up small-scale businesses.

Speaking at the Women in Fisheries Forum yesterday, Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa said the lack of data and appropriate economic valuation of subsistence fisheries resulted in women’s fishing activities not being included in most official statistics.

“We may not have adequate data to prove this at this point in time, but a common sight at any of the local municipal and roadside markets are women engaging in seafood marketing activities, whereby they sell their products to a wide range of consumers for domestic and commercial use,” she said.

However, Mrs Vuniwaqa said women fishers were still expected to fulfil their traditional duties and obligations, obviously because of the lack of recognition of their trade as a form of economic activity while having to keep up with modern market economy demands.

Mrs Vuniwaqa acknowledged the Women in Fisheries Network-Fiji for taking great strides in making the women fishers visible in our nation. “We can no longer afford to let our women fishers remain invisible.”

Mrs Vuniwaqa said they would also create a gender-fair society that protected and promoted the rights of women, which would be realised through the implementation of the Women’s Plan of Action and the National Gender Policy over the next five years.

She emphasised such informal economic activities were truly the backbone of the economy.

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