International Women’s Day Celebration and equipment hand-over

March 2, 2023

The Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Ms Sashi Kiran
The UN Women Women Markets for Change Project team

The Suva City Council and Nausori Town Council Representatives
The Suva United Market Vendors Association Representatives

 The Nausori Market Vendors Association Representatives
The Professional Maids & Kadavu House Security Services

UNDP and UNCDF Colleagues 
Esteemed guests and friends,

Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

It is an honor and a privilege to say a few words at this morning’s celebration – International Women’s Day.

Historically, the 8th of March is set aside to commemorate this historical and significant day, that is set aside to celebrate and recognize women. Today’s celebration will also coincide with the handing-over of equipment to support online learnings or trainings for urban and rural market vendors and farmers as part of the Markets for Change Project or M4C. 

Firstly, I would like to convey my congratulations to the newly appointed Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, the Honorable Ms Sashi Kiran. I would also like to commend the Fiji Government, UN Women as M4C Project lead, project partners and donors - the Australian Government, Canadian Government and the New Zealand Government for their commitment and dedication, in ensuring that the vulnerable groups such as women, youth, and people living with disabilities are continuously supported during this “new normal” and unprecedented times. 

We applaud the strong partnership with partners and key stakeholders in its efforts to continuously promote and advocate for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls. 

The Fiji Government must also be acknowledged for taking the lead in paving the way for partners and communities to collaborate with international organizations, non-governmental organisations, partners, donors, and communities in its efforts to eliminate poverty, and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. 
Under the Markets for Change Project, this morning's event includes the handing over of 20 Laptops, 20 Portable Printers and Scanners, and this clearly demonstrates UNDP's commitment to supporting inclusive growth policies and strategies aimed at increasing financial inclusion and reaching out to vulnerable groups such as rural women market vendors and farmers. 

The hand-over will directly benefit between 3,000 to 4,000 urban and rural market vendors and farmers, 75 percent of whom are women farmers that trade at the 13 municipal markets around the central, western, northern and eastern provinces of Fiji, 2 municipal markets and 5 ring road markets in Vanuatu, and 2 municipal markets in Solomon Islands. This support is a continuation of COVID-19 support, ensuring all market vendors across Fiji, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands are able to access online learnings.

Ladies and Gentlemen, last year, 40 percent of rural women market vendors across Fiji, had accessed online trainings through M4C. The M4C Project has directly benefitted over 3,000 -4,000 rural women market vendors whereby the women vendors had demonstrated access to financial, social and health services, enabling them to gain confidence, improve their lives, and expand on their business.

UNDP champions the Sustainable Development Goals, and donor agencies continue to support and allow UNDP to fulfill its commitment to serving communities in Fiji and thus contribute to the global development agenda.

UNDP also recognizes collaboration with key partners in advancing gender equality and empowering women through better workplace practices and decent work as important. UNDP is committed to continue working with women farmers through M4C activities and value chains to increase the income and businesses of women through business strengthening and development approach. 

UNDP works in partnership with UN Women in the Pacific to promote women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in marketplaces. The partnership aims to ensure marketplaces in rural and urban areas of Fiji, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu are inclusive with no discrimination, promoting gender equality and women empowerment. 

UNDP works to improve the livelihoods of women market vendors and farmers through financial literacy and agricultural training and then improve the income and productivity of market vendors and farmers. This support will ensure that urban and rural market vendors and farmers under M4C have the resources they need, to constantly learn new ideas, methods or techniques to better serve their families, communities, and the nation. This support will ensure the urban and rural market vendors and farmers contribute to improving their lives, thus alleviating poverty. 

In closing, I wish to you all a Happy International Women’s Day and I hope you will enjoy the rest of the day.

Thank you and vinaka vakalevu.