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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, March 9) - Fiji did not achieve 50 percent women representation in government boards, committees, councils, tribunals and commissions by 2005 as reflected in the national plan of action.

Speaking at the launch of International Women's Day in Suva yesterday, Minister for Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation, Adi Asenaca Caucau said women were in the lower level of decision making in the public and private sector.

"Though women have made significant progress in improving educational qualifications and getting vocational training, they still are at lower level positions," Adi Asenaca said.

She said women comprised only 22.8 percent of government boards and committees.

"They make up 46 percent employed in the public service. Of that, 14 percent are at senior executive level, 13 percent at deputy secretary level and only 8 percent (3 out of 23) are chief executives."

She said women were vastly under-represented in most decision-making levels of the Government and other statutory bodies despite its continued emphasis to promote women's participation.

"Creating a positive environment for women's input in decision making, running gender sensitive programs and gender-based training are essential to addressing gender inequality," she said.

She said programs such as Women in Politics, initiated by the United Nations Development Funds for Women, were a good start in raising awareness for women in politics and decision-making.

"Through the program, women got together to coordinate efforts to improve participation in the political process and election," she said.

March 10, 2006

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