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Why Women Count: Fiji - Determined Women
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Why Women Count: Fiji - Determined Women
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Small Change = Big Idea
In the rural, cane-growing region of Fiji, a new enterprise is revolutionizing the lives of the local community by providing an income for women who previously relied on their husbands, helping them scale up production and save money, and financing the country's only senior citizens center.
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Camera: Joseph Narayan
Editor: Jemesa Waqavanua
Produced and Directed by Merana Kitione
Production: Fiji Television Limited

Coordinated by tve.

Learn more about the series Why Women Count.

Series supported by Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Global Opportunities Fund (FCO), UN Population Fund, UNIFEM/UN Women, and Al Jazeera English.

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Segment 1

TITLE
Why Women Count
TITLE
Determined Women
VOICEOVER
In the rural cane farming communities of Fiji, women have always been the homemakers and not the breadwinners. But the role is slowly reversing. Until a year ago, Anshu Mala took care of her home and two daughters while her husband farmed their cane land. When they started to struggle financially, Anshu used what knowledge she had of the traditional task of chutney-making to help to earn their living.
ANSHU MALA
We weigh the mangoes and wash it. After washing it, we peel and grate it. And then we weigh the grated mangoes, put it in the pot, mix it with sugar and cook it for about one hour.
VOICEOVER
She plays a leading role in the area's chutney production, an enterprise initiated by the NGO FRIEND.
ANSHU MALA
Before we had land, we had a sugarcane field. But when our lease expired it was taken over by the native mataqali, so it was very hard for my husband to support the family. I have two daughters and my mother-in-law to look after. So it's very helpful when I work too. I support my husband.
VOICEOVER
Vijay Latchmi's chutney recipes are used to fill these jars, now ready for sale at local stores and in the near future for export.
VIJAY LATCHMI
I made some pickles and sweet mango chutney. These were tested at the FRIEND office and then they asked me to work with them.
VOICEOVER
While FRIEND provides the kitchen, Vijay employs staff and secures a mango supplier. And with the income she gets for each jar of chutney, she is able to pay her workers.
VIJAY LATCHMI
I came here and got work so I could earn money. When I wasn't working I didn't have any money. Now I can save money and buy the things that I want. I don't have to ask anyone for money.
VOICEOVER
Tamarind chutney sales have financed the country's only senior citizens center. In this cane-farming town, everyone in this kitchen and this center plays a role in the chutney-making process and reaps the rewards.
SASHI KIRAN [Co-founder, FRIEND]
Older people are able to take out the tamarind, so the center is able to buy from them. These women are earning money out of that, at the first level. And the center employs women and they are making money. And eventually all the proceeds are then [put back into the center]. That money is used to provide services to the older persons, and it may be a whole range: community outreach, wheelchairs, to just a cup of tea for the seniors.
VOICEOVER
But the challenges remain.
SASHI KIRAN
If you you're not monitoring, the quality drops. If you're not monitoring or supporting them or encouraging them throughout then the production may not be there. Because our reality is that the people we are dealing with are extremely poor or have been battered most of their life, and to build their esteem and to get them to a stage will take time. It's a process.
VOICEOVER
At home, but making a difference, the villagers of a cane farming community are learning to save what little they have for a rainy day.
KASANITA BOLOULUTU [Group Leader, Save Scheme]
The source of income is just catching crab in the mangroves. Some are cane farmers but majority don't have land, they are just cane cutters.
SASHI KIRAN
In Fiji, we have a culture of borrowing, and for the first time we wanted to set them up to save on their own.
VOICEOVER
These women don't do paid work; they are the homemakers. But they put aside a dollar or two each week from their husbands' earnings as savings for their future.
KASANITA BOLOULUTU
I think they save only one or two dollars but for us that's something. We can save at least one dollar a week.
SASHI KIRAN
We identify the skills needed when we help them get started and when they continuously keep coming back and telling us how they've used their money. They go through our budgeting lessons and then they start putting money away, and it's wonderful to see. We may not be reaching the entire country right now because of lack of resources, but we see hundreds of people every week where this has made an impact in terms of their income.
TITLE
[End credits]