Fiji Council Of Women: Budget Needs Improvements

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Gender-specific affirmative action required: Vulaono

By Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Nov. 30, 2014) – The president of the National Council of Women, Tauga Vulaono wants parliamentarians to start walking the talk on their commitment to women.

She says Members of Parliament need to walk the talk and make Budget 2015 gender-sensitive with gender-specific affirmative action including a reduction in military spending and this needs to be highlighted as MPs commence their debate tomorrow.

"They critically need to look with a gender-lens at the allocations for 11 areas and make improvements." "These areas cover health, education, infrastructure development and public utilities, agriculture, police and military, micro-enterprise, taxes and fiscal duty, and women," Vulaono said.

On education, the council urges that the free bus fares programme be closely and continuously monitored and effectively managed as abuse of this service would see young girls in particular being the first to suffer in this regard where they will not be able to attend school.

"The council also urge that with the Tertiary Education Loan Scheme [TELS], that 50per cent of the scheme be allocated to girls/women.

"In 2016, that TELS be converted into full scholarships as it is detrimental to young women and men to go straight into debt after graduation," she said.

She added full scholarships must also be financially adequate to cover tuition fees, text books, stationery, housing allowance as there’s evidence that young girls were forced to live together to make ends meet for rent, meals and other incidental expenses, social problems also occur.

Vulaono has also called for the establishment of technical colleges that have curriculums that are inclusive of skills pertaining to women and also that students attending these schools consist of a 50% portion of girls and boys.

"Education resources must be allocated equally amongst girls and boys and men and women and the NCWF strongly recommends that The Ministry of Education formulate financial and other policy reports to show the impact that men and women have on Education."

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