8 Mar 2005

Fiji judge says women have to take charge and make their voices heard

8:19 pm on 8 March 2005

A leading woman professional in Fiji has called on her fellow women to take charge, have their voices heard and their issues addressed.

Radio Legend reports that High Court judge Justice Nazhat Shameem made the call at celebrations in Suva to mark International Women's Day.

Justice Shameem says that although women have made some progress and have more rights and liberties, it is not nearly enough.

She says women are yet to get the same recognition as men in the workforce.

Justice Shameem says the Fiji government's report to the UN's Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, or CEDAW, says men and women are equally educated.

Justice Shameem says this is not reflected in the composition of the workforce.

As an example, she says although 57% of primary school teachers are women, only 22-point-5% of head teachers are women and only 14% of secondary school principals.

Justice Shameem says the quality of access to health and education by rural women continues to need improvement and the work done by them remains unacknowledged in national statistics.

As well, she says the breakdown of the family unit has led to the rise of single parent families with the mother supporting all members of the family.

Justice Shameem says women are grossly underrepresented on boards, committees and in decision making positions in the public service.