REMARKS: Fiji leveraging digital for social change, inclusion- Statement to CSW67

On the occasion of the Sixty-Seventh Session of the Commission on the Status of
delivered by
Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation of the Republic of Fiji
6-17 March 2023, General Assembly Hall


Madam Chair, Excellencies and Distinguished guests,
I am honoured to participate in and address the sixty-seven session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
I shall begin to confirm that Fiji aligns with the statement that delivered on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum member states.

I here reaffirm too Fiji’s strong commitment to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, 5-year enhanced Lima work programme on gender and its gender action plan, UN Security Council resolution 1325 and subsequent resolutions relating to women, peace and security, and our hold for the Sustainable Development Goals and 2030 Agenda.

Madam Chair, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of our world. And today we still collectively confront its devastating social and economic impact. This is at the same time that the nature is striking back with ferocity whereas the climate crisis becoming the defining crisis of our time.

Climate change crisis is a harsh reality that Fiji and the Blue Pacific are experiencing every day. Rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and more frequent and severe cyclones, and changes in rainfall patterns are affecting our daily lives, economies, our infrastructure, and social and cultural fabrics of our communities. And the truth is we are not all equal in the face of it. Gender discriminatory social norms and stereotypes, gender-based violence, and limited decision-making power, digital divide, burden of domestic work and unpaid care, as well as unequal access to resources and services – further exacerbate our women and girls’ resilience and vulnerability.

Fiji recognises that in the face of these intertwined and complex challenges, it is more critical than ever to leverage technology and innovation but acknowledging that no technological fixes can address the underlying structural problems and root causes that drive inequality and violation of women’s rights in our society.

Fiji is forthright too that while digital technology and innovation can create new possibilities for climate change mitigation and adaptation, it also can expand the carbon footprint of the ICT sector. While digital technology and innovation has the potential to advance gender equality, it also poses risks such as online gender-based violence and gender bias in algorithms and artificial intelligence. Fiji therefore support the development and use of technology and innovation in a way that is climate sustainable with commitment to the path with net-zero carbon emission and moreover responsive to the needs and perspectives of women and girls in all diversity.

Madam Chair, 71% of Fijians are connected to the Internet. 80% of Fijian women own a phone and, of them, three quarters own a smart phone. 71% of women access the Internet at least once per week. 75% of women own a bank account; while only 11% of Fijians with bank accounts use Internet banking, of them, 60% are women, and nearly one in five women uses mobile money accounts, with 62% using them regularly.

Fijian women are leveraging digital connectivity to advocate for social change and inclusion, receiving timely information about impending disasters while also exploring and utilising it to expand their businesses, save time and overcome constraints in accessing information that supports their economic and income-generating activities.

Fiji is rapidly positioning itself in emerging fields such as global outsourcing services (GOS), blue, green and circular economies where women have the potential to excel. At present, the GOS workforce estimated at 5,000 people, 90% are under the age of 35 years and 70% are women. The level of employment is projected to increase by 15,000 by 2026, with a similar
proportion of women employees. The initiatives in Fiji to recruit and train rural women to manufacture; market and maintain energy-efficient cook stoves and solar panels are examples of the green-job.

Fiji acknowledges that there are still challenges that must be addressed to ensure that all women and girls are able to fully participate and benefit from digital and technological advancements. The burden of unpaid care work and plague of gender-based violence pose significant risks to us. Fijian girls and young women need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills in STEM
fields to prepare them for the jobs of the future. The access and capacity of women in Fiji’s rural and remote areas to leverage mobile technologies to benefit their agricultural and non-agricultural economic activities have yet to be fully explored.

Madam Chair and distinguished delegates; moving forward, we must ensure that technology works for all women and girls, and not against them. We must prioritize their safety, security, and dignity in all our efforts to harness the potential of technology for social and economic development. We must ensure that women and girls in all diversity have the skills and knowledge to use
digital tools effectively and safely. Fiji reaffirms its strong commitment. We will continue to work towards a sustainable, inclusive, and gender-equal future, where technology is harnessed for the benefit of all.

I thank you!



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