This year’s Women’s Day celebration theme is “Balance for Better”.

Its purpose is to encourage societies to ensure that more and more women take up roles and positions in areas normally dominated by men. In this way the affairs of countries and communities will become more inclusive and better reflect the hopes and aspirations of all.

International Women’s Day is observed in many nations to celebrate the achievements of women in all spheres of society. The day was born out of a demonstration in New York when 15,000 women marched to demand shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote in 1909 and was adopted by the United Nations in 1975.

When women step into important positions in business, public affairs and politics they bring new strength, vision and insights. Throughout Fiji women at many levels are making a difference and I admire them all.

I pay a special tribute to all those women in villages and settlements who handle myriad tasks everyday. They carry out household chores, cooking, care for their families, prepare children ready for school and at times carry firewood and water.

Often they earn extra money for their families by making handicrafts, diving for “kai”, making “rourou moci”, crabbing, or selling fruits and vegetables at roadsides or in markets. I see them every day, the unsung heroes who make an incalculable contribution to our country. They are role models of selfless effort and sacrifice to serve. They deserve our respect and praise.

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