GENDER, CONSTRUCTION AND HOUSING IN FIJI – A FIJI FEMINIST EXPERIENCE
Who says that for us living in the Central division, everything is accessible?
Not everything, not for everyone. The need to have better employment, better drinking water, good sanitation, food and shelter are a few of the many daily challenges faced by urban dwellers in Fiji. And the violence and lack of safety we face is here too.
Women for that matter, are also the first responders to almost everything. Despite born and bred in the central division, women of all diversities find it hard here to provide our own and family shelter or even afford a roof over our own head. Accessing housing is hard. Not only many unemployed or in casual work, but we also most of us can’t access education related to housing or construction or anything that we are interested in, even to do it ourselves.
The thought of being discriminated in public, stigma,mental instability to drive forward, lack of skills, lack of education, teenage pregnancies, partner insecurities, none or less support from family, lack or no financial support, cultural barrier, and living on I taukei owned land or with informal arrangement for land, also restricts our shelter needs. The ability to buy materials to build, the money to make payments to owners is so hard to come by. Being a woman definitely restricts our access to housing and shelter too, and being LBT. So if less secure shelter, we are more exposed to gender-based violence.
Thanks to DIVA for Equality Fiji, in solidarity with main expert partners in Housing such as Habitat for Humanity Fiji and Australia Pacific Technical Coalition, funded by Asian Development Bank (ADB), we have this Certificate II in Building training on right now. It has 20 scholarships for women in the Central division of Fiji.
I was lucky to be one who got into the training course, assisting and providing us young women of all diversities in the central division with the opportunity to apply, access and create skills for life. It takes many partners for real change to happen.
We look forward to being able to make housing but also all development services more accessible for our own families – and also for wider community and other grassroots women and their families in Fiji and the Pacific. Already with one community member with a serious illness in an informal settlement, we helped her with a porch kitchen, and we will be making steps in slippery soil for ease of access to a washroom with more ease.
This shows the real need for housing, that Fiji women already help ourselves and others, and we want to make the changes happen more for local grassroots community.
But first, we have the learning. In this Building course, we have learnt to develop and acquire construction skills in order to cater and provide us knowledge when it comes to starting our own family – whether it is a home renovation, building homes or shelter needs or for business. We can do it now.
These life skills do not only groom us but also sets dreams and goals within each and every one of us. It has makes us stronger, powerful, firmly grounded, strengthening bonds that help us develop strategies within our daily lives. We supported each other.
This includes maintaining healthy internal and external relationships, sharing knowledge, providing support and care services and also acknowledging the support from family, friends, trainers, and our different networks and organisations.
Overall Fiji women want to enter all industries, but where there is still a lot of prejudice and discrimination, like in construction and housing. Together we can change this.
So we need as Fiji women to work together, to fight together so that we can conquer anything. It doesn’t take one person alone, we all play a vital role in this chain of success.
We all need to be part of change for adequate shelter and housing in Fiji, as together we address violence and discrimination, poverty, lack of safety and help make more security for all.
Leave No One Behind.
Sustainable Goals 1, 5, 11, 13, 17 and all.
Fiji women can do anything.