Press Release: Opening of Lautoka Market’s Women Vendors’ Accommodation and Resource Centre

Female market vendors staying overnight at Lautoka Market no longer have to sleep out in the open thanks to an accommodation facility funded by UN Women’s Australian National Committee.


Market 4 Change 

Stakeholders and market vendors celebrated the facility’s official opening – as well as breaking ground for a new market extension – on Friday July 18 with a ceremony that included addresses from Prime Minister Rear Admiral Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama and Welder Mtisi, Officer in Charge at UN Women’s Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO).

Lautoka opening

UN Women Fiji MCO Operations Manager Welder Mtisi breaking ground on a market extension at the opening of the Lautoka Market Women’s Accommodation and Resource Centre. Photo credit: UN Women

UN Women’s Australian National Committee provided just over FJ$115,000 in 2013 as part of a cost-sharing arrangement between UN Women and Lautoka City Council to construct a facility that not only offers overnight shelter and security to rural women vendors, but also serves as a resource for all vendors, providing them with practical advice, training and assistance in order to grow and diversify their businesses.

Lautoka Municipal Market is the Western Division’s largest market and attracts vendors from as far away as Wainibuka, Ra, Nadarivatu, Navosa and the Yasawa Islands. Around 350 of its 600 regular vendors are women, 200 of whom travel from rural areas to sell their produce from Thursdays to Saturdays, spending more than 40 per cent of their time away from their families. Sleeping in the open makes them more vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence, as well as theft. The new facility can accommodate up to 60 women at one time.

Prime Minister Bainimarama was pleased to open something that will mean so much to ordinary Fijian women.

“No longer do you have to sleep on the pavement next to your produce. No longer do you have to worry about the weather or your personal security. No longer do you have to struggle to find a toilet or to wash. All this is now available to you here.”

The accommodation facility is part of UN Women’s Markets for Change (M4C) project, a six-year, multi-country initiative that aims to ensure that rural and urban marketplaces in Fiji, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has contributed AU$10 million to the M4C project as a key component of its Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development initiative.

In Fiji the M4C project works with nine municipal councils across 10 market sites and Mr Mtisi said this approach has the potential to reach the entire supply chain.

“The M4C Project has contributed in the building of resource centre in the hope that it will have a visible impact on economic progress for vendors; that local authorities will support positive change in markets especially in providing an enabling environment for market vendors.”

The opening ceremony was also a chance to break ground on a market extension that will provide many of the vendors who currently operate under tarpaulins outside the market building protection from weather extremes. UN Women is once again working with the Lautoka City Council to complete this project.

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Media enquiries:

Ellie van Baaren
Regional communications and media specialist
UN Women
Phone: (+679) 330 1178 ext 125

Notes to Editors:

UN Women’s Markets for Change project

The Markets for Change project is a key component of UN Women’s Women’s Economic Empowerment programme. The six-year, multi-country initiative aims to ensure that marketplaces in rural and urban areas in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Between 75% and 90% of vendors working at Pacific marketplaces are women and their earnings often make up a significant portion of the incomes of many poor households. Despite this, women are often excluded from market governance and decision-making. M4C works with stakeholders, service providers and the market vendors themselves to: build and support inclusive, effective and representative advocacy groups; deliver appropriate services, training and interventions; ensure women’s voices are heard and taken into account at the decision-making level; and to improve physical infrastructure and operating systems.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has provided AU$10 million to support the implementation of the Markets for Change project.

About UN Women and the Multi-Country Office (MCO) in Fiji

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) was created at the July 2010 United Nations General Assembly. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. The MCO covers 14 Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs): Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The Fiji MCO works with four key programmes: Women’s Economic Empowerment; Ending Violence Against Women; Advancing Gender Justice in the Pacific; and Increasing Community Resilience through Empowerment of Women to Address Climate Change and Natural Hazards Programme to progress with gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Pacific.