Recognising the contribution of rural women to national development

Women and girls play a crucial role in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, improving rural livelihoods and overall well-being. Women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force, including informal work, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work within families and households in rural areas. They make significant contributions to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, and building climate resilience.

Each year, 15 October marks International Rural Women’s Day, a day to recognise and celebrate the contribution that rural women make to national development. This year’s theme was: “Sustainable infrastructure, services and social protection for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.”

The Fiji Women’s Fund works with diverse groups of women across Fiji. The Fund places special attention on reaching women living in rural and remote areas and those who are marginalised, this includes women with disabilities and those experiencing some form of discrimination. Women in rural and remote Fiji are more vulnerable to poverty than those living in urban areas.

To celebrate this day, the Fund launched a publication highlighting some of the key lessons that it has learned in supporting women’s economic empowerment initiatives.  Promising Practices from Fiji in empowering women economically, documents the combined lessons learned from the work of the Fund’s grantees Ra Naari Parishaad, Talanoa Treks and Rise Beyond the Reef.  All three organisations work with women collectives.

The paper aims to contribute to improved women’s economic empowerment programs by sharing the experiences of these three partners. The authors document the learnings of practitioners in Fiji and compare these with the existing literature for the audience of practitioners in the Pacific and abroad. The Fiji Women’s Fund supports the documentation of research from practice, so that the expertise of practitioners is recognised, and, to increase the body of knowledge generated from the Global South.

Key commonalities from the three organisations as reported in the paper were:

  • Understanding the importance of women’s collectives instead of an individual focus
  • Analysing the differences in the household especially – power dynamics and women’s ability to negotiate household welfare
  • Examining the situation between men and women – men need to be included in women’s economic empowerment initiatives.

For a summary version of the report, read our latest blog here: