JOINT PRESS RELEASE: Nausori Market Women’s Accommodation Centre: A Safe and Accessible Place For Rural Women Vendors

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Nausori, Fiji – Rural women vendors and farmers trading at Nausori Municipal Market will have a safe place to sleep at the new Nausori Market Women’s Accommodation Centre which was officially opened today by His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley, AC DSC (Retd), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, and Fiji’s Minister for Commerce, Trade and Tourism, and Transport, and acting Minister for Local Government, Honorable Faiyaz Koya.

Gov General Hon David Hurley, Her Excellency Linda Hurley with Nausori Market Staff

His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley, AC DSC (Retd), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, Her Excellency Linda Hurley with Nausori Market Staff at the Accommodation Centre opening. Photo: UN Women/Waimoana Tabuya and Iliesa Ravuci

The accommodation centre will provide a safe space for women who travel from the provinces of Rewa, Naitasiri, Tailevu and from as far as Rakiraki and Ba, to sell their produce at Nausori market. The centre will include a lift to ensure access for vendors with reduced mobility and can also be used as a training and meeting facility.

“Markets operate efficiently when the vendors can arrive safely, deliver their goods, make their sales, retain their earnings, and be accommodated overnight securely and safely if they require to be—that is critical,” said the Governor General.

“To have this facility today is a life changer for the women of Nausori market, because it provides you better health outcomes, better safety outcomes and better security outcomes—without those, we are lesser as a community,” he said. “This will empower market vendors and this is a great model for the rest of Fiji to be following.”

Beds being set up at new Nausori Market Accommodation Centre

Beds being set up at new Nausori Market Accommodation Centre. Photo: UN Women/Waimoana Tabuya and Iliesa Ravuci

The centre was identified as a key need by rural women vendors – who also provided input to the project’s design – and was made possible through the support of the Australian Government to the Markets for Change (M4C) project and in partnership with the FijianGovernment. Additional funding for mattresses, pillows and other accommodation furnishing was provided by the Australian National Committee for UN Women.

“Every day, around the world, women are subject to barriers. Barriers that hold them back from equal economic opportunities. But not having a space to sell or a place to rest and prepare, should not be one of them - especially not if we can help it. This is part of the Fijian Government’s commitment in creating safe and secure facilities – while empowering women and micro, small and medium enterprises,” said the Acting Minister for Local Government, Hon. Faiyaz Koya.

Vice President of the Nausori Market Vendors Association, Christina Kumar, has been selling at the Nausori Market for eight years. She said, “as a woman leader in the association, I feel so happy and proud of what we have been able to achieve for our rural women working alongside the local government and with the M4C project.”

Nausori market vendors with Acting Market Manager Vaciseva Matewai

Nausori market vendors with Acting Market Manager Vaciseva Matewai (in pink/blue). Photo: UN Women/Waimoana Tabuya and Iliesa Ravuci

The M4C project supports women market vendors to participate in infrastructure development and market management. Sandra Bernklau, UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office Representative, said, “having women’s voices heard means safer, more inclusive marketplaces that are also accessible to people with disabilities—this ultimately benefits all market vendors by creating decent working conditions that lead to increased economic activity.”

M4C is implemented by UN Women in partnership with UNDP and the Governments of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The project promotes gender equality through the economic empowerment of women market vendors in Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu and brings together governments, market vendors and market vendor associations (MVAs), civil society organizations and UN agencies.