PER, Earthquake, Consumer Council, RNZI Compromised, Women's Centres and FWF
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N207. THE PUBLIC EMERGENCY REGULATIONS, introduced in April 2009 and extended on a month-to-month basis since, have again been extended until March 15 — when I would expect them to be again extended. Readers will know that I have very mixed feelings on PER: they inhibit the dialogue and citizen participation that is very much needed, but if the death, assassination, revenge and bomb threats continue, it is hard not to condone their extension.
N208. EARTHQUAKES. Close on the heels of the disastrous Christchurch earthquake that took an estimated 180 lives and from which it will take ten years to completely recover comes the far more disastrous Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant leakage. PM Bainimarama says Fiji is ready to provide what assistance it can. “Our thoughts are with the families of the victims and with the men and women struggling to save those still entrapped in the rubble.”
Premila Kuma says the "Fair Financial Services" report will be launched today. She said the reason for focusing on financial services for this year's World Consumer Day is because the conduct and trade practices of banks have for long been a matter of public debate.
In 1998, a six-member Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into Financial Services was established and their main areas of focus were high fees, charges and interest rates, and poor service delivery by banks.The enquiry's report, published in a parliamentary paper in February 1999, indicated widespread public dissatisfaction and number of recommendations were made but since then little has changed. The Book will be launched tomorrow by the Trade Minister and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum.
N210. RADIO NZ INTERNATIONAL TOTALLY COMPROMISED. Radio NZ International claims to broadcast news not opinion but when its news is so obviously selective and biased my view is that it is opinion, biased opinion. It gathers its "news" from a small pool of biased journalists and ignores other sources.
Take its recent report on the planned 14 Women's Centres. Normally RNZI would not report anything so mundane but armed with the solicited opinion of FemlinkPacific's Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, who in response to their phone call, said she wondered where the money was coming from, it became news. Sharon said she hoped the buildings would be used, that the programmes would involve "women’s interest offices" that have the resources for information, communication, dissemination. And she hoped "women of all ethnicities will be able to access the centres once they’re operating." I find her response incredible.
She seemed quite unaware of the Centres despite the fact they were announced by Dr Jiko Luveni, the Minister of Women, over a year ago, and one is already in operation barely ten kilometres from where she lives. One has to ask why RNZI phoned an uninformed person to comment when they could as easily have phoned the Ministry of women. If they were really up with the play on Fiji, they could also have read my report on the Centres, published on September 27th last year, that is reprinted below. It is fact not opinion and it answers all the questions Sharon did not address.
N211. THE FIJI WOMEN'S FEDERATION (reprinted from September 27, 2010). Approved by Cabinet last year, the FWF is an important unit in the Department of Women, which advises the Minister for Women on national issues concerning development and works in partnership with women's NGOs to achieve a coordinated approach to programme implementation. Unlike many umbrella women's organizations in the past, the FWF is open to all races.
Most FWF activities are based on centres and involve a great deal of self-help supplemented by government assistance. Eight centres should be built by the end of this year and 14, one for each province, by 2014. The women's husbands and male relatives build the centres; government provides the money for materials. The elected
president of each centre sits on an advisory committee at the Ministry.
The centres also work closely with divisional planning offices to identify the needs of women specific to their communities, and training is provided in capacity building, alternative livelihoods, and other activities to help generate income for the women
The Advisory Committee is charged with the implementation of government's Women’s Plan of Action (WPA) 2010 to 2019 that spells out five priority areas for the development and advancement of women:
1. Formal sector employment and livelihoods
2. Equal Participation in decision-making 3. Elimination of violence against women
4. Access to services (Health and HIV/AIDS, education and other basic services)
5. Women and the Law.
FWF informs women about the international Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against
Women (CEDAW); its centres are places of informal education and shared experiences, and training grounds, perhaps, for women's greater involvement in politics.
When I met the Minister of Women, Dr Jiko Luveni, in June, she told me of government actions to empower women, and said: "For years we've been waiting for this." This spoke words for a woman who initially was opposed to the Bainimarama government and whose husband was a member of former PM Qarase's SDL party.
For readers and organizations in Fiji that would like to know more about the FWF, email the Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org -- Based, in part, on 2010 No:1415/MOI.