This is our time as Women to step up. Our communities are in need of our help and our care particularly now after dealing with so much challenges; cyclones and Covid-19.

These were the words of Tui Nakasaleka, Bulou Suluweti Naikelekelevesi Matai, who ended the week-long International Women’s Day celebration at the Secretariat on March 10th.

The Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (PIANGO) and its host member, Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS) participated in multiple gatherings to commemorate the contribution of women in nation building. Executive Directors Emeline Ilolahia was the chief guest at the Lami District Council of Social Services (Lami DCOSS) while FCOSS Executive director Vani Catanasiga was part of a panel on Women Leadership in DRR.

Women, according to Bulou Suluweti, needs to recognise their strengths and their full potential because they have so much to offer not only at the community level but at the national too.

She said gone are the days where men dominate decision making space at the community and national level, challenging the women to be like Queen Esther in the bible on how her bravery saved an entire nation, which means God can use anyone to fulfill His purpose and to change the world.

“You need to own your place in your community and be willing to participate whether in church or the vanua, be obedient and God will be direct you “she added.

Ms Ilolahia said women still have a limited role in decision-making and feel their voices are not heard despite the positive contributions they make to the development of their communities and their families.

“We need to reflect and celebrate women participating in the development sphere because their experiences will help the nation recover better,” Ms Ilolahia said.