16 Oct 2006

ADB pushes for better opportunities for women in Fiji

3:55 pm on 16 October 2006

The Asian Development Bank says the Fiji government must do more to ensure greater representation of women in management and put more effort into equal employment opportunities.

The ADB's regional director, Sirpa Jarvenpaa, was speaking after releasing a report which shows that women are the most marginalised in Fiji, with a higher risk of poverty and destitution.

She says in the rural areas, there are few opportunities for women to earn cash and the ADB has instituted an alternative livelihoods programme to address this, with cash crops such as pawpaw and vanilla under consideration.

Ms Jarvenpaa says in the urban areas, women predominate in the low paid manufacturing sector and even in the civil service, they do not receive the same opportunities as men, so more needs to be done.

"The government has set a target, requiring 50 percent of the representatives on the government boards and bodies. We would support that target. They are far from achieving that and more assertive action in promoting, and more diligent application of the equal employment opportunities policy is needed."

Ms Jarvenpaa says women make up 19 percent of total appointments to government tribunals, boards and committees while they represent only 16 percent of senior executive appointments in the civil service.

The government's strategic development plan proposes a target of 30 percent by 2011 and 50 percent eventually.