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Breaking Barriers – Bua Quartet Undergo Carpentry Training

Four women from Lekutu District in Bua are breaking barriers by taking part in a two-week carpentry skills training for building cyclone proof houses that ended last week in Votua Village.

Seravina Masitabua, 28, Melaia Tabuamotu, 32, Lusiana Kelera, 50, and Nunia Loga, 24, returned to their homes well equipped with new skills to pursue new livelihoods.

For Lusiana, her age and her gender was an issue for her but encouragement by fellow villagers to participate in the training provided by carpenters from the Ministry of Forestry, enabled her to take a chance.

“The two-weeks training was an eye opener for me and I am very grateful that I took part,” Lusiana said.

Lusiana, who resides in Votua Village with her parents indicated that it was the first time women were allowed to participate in skills training set aside for males in the village.

Fellow villager Nunia said the training was a good learning experience for her even though she thinks more time could have been allocated instead of the two-week time frame.

“I enjoyed the training very much but I think they should extend it to three weeks or even a month considering the number of participants outweighed the two carpenters,” Nunia said.

Nunia said there were about 25 participants in total attending the training which included both theory and practical classes.

Hearing about the carpentry skills training through word-of-mouth from villagers motivated Seravina to participate.

“I took carpentry skills training at Australian Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) last year before coming to the village and what I learnt here during the two-weeks further enhanced the knowledge,” Seravina said.

“Upon returning to the village, I never thought of putting my carpentry skills to good use but after this training and with my fellow female colleagues I want to pursue my skills further and maybe the four of us can start our own carpentry business.”

For Melaia, being allowed by village elders to participate in the training boosted her morale during the two-week training.

“Times are changing and I am grateful village elders have allowed the four of us to take part in the training as this never happened before,” Melaia said.

“I am also grateful to the two carpenters from the Ministry of Forestry for their patience in teaching us – especially the four of us and yes we will definitely put our skills to good use as we will assist other villagers in rebuilding their homes.”

Gender Equality

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Assessment Report 2021 on SDG5 Gender Equality states that the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have adversely affected progress towards gender equality.

It further states that violence against women and girls has intensified and child marriage, on the decline in recent years, is expected to increase; and women have suffered a disproportionate share of job losses and increased care work at home.

The report adds that the pandemic has highlighted the need to act swiftly to address pervasive global gender inequalities. Women have played a central role in the response to COVID-19, as frontline health workers, care providers and as managers and leaders of recovery efforts.

Yet they remain under-represented in leadership positions and their rights and priorities are often not explicitly addressed in response and recovery measures.

The crisis presents an opportunity to re-shape and rebuild systems, laws, policies and institutions to advance gender equality.

The report states that the pandemic has exacerbated gender inequalities and threatens to undermine progress on women’s empowerment.

More than ever, women are needed as equal partners in crafting gender-responsive laws, policies and budgets to build back better and ensure a gender transformative agenda in both private and public sector spheres.

Carpentry Skills Training  - Progress

The two-week training is part of the Housing Rehabilitation Project facilitated by the Ministry of Forestry in Vanua Levu so that people Fijians are empowered with skills to build back better.

The project started after back-back tropical cyclones namely TC Harold in April last year, TC Yasa in December last year and TC Ana earlier this year struck Fiji leaving homes partially or completely destroyed.

The Housing Rehabilitation Project team have so far rebuilt more than 70 partially damaged homes in Vanua Levu and look forward to the support of villagers like Seravina, Melaia, Lusiana and Nunia to put their skills to good use and assist Government in building other partially or fully damaged homes in the province of Bua.



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