A gender needs assessment of Rotuma carried out by the Laje Rotuma Initiative found that gender differences in representation and leadership of women on Rotuma are limited to informal decision-making processes through women’s groups or clubs formed at the village level. However, at this level it is sometimes difficult for women in leadership roles to identify with and prioritise the needs of other women, resulting in disconnect and disadvantage, particularly between younger and older women.
Consultations were held from 29 April – 2 May 2019 in Rotuma with representatives from community groups from the seven districts of Noa’tau, Oinafa, Pepjei, Malha’a, Juju, Ituti’u, and Itumuta. Various stakeholders, women’s and youth groups were consulted during this period. A participatory consultative meeting for Rotuman women living in Suva was also held on 1 June 2019. The assessment funded by the Fiji Women’s Fund, provides a snapshot of the status of women in Rotuma and identifies and prioritises their needs.
It also found that women’s groups ranged in their effectiveness, capacity, internal governance, and leadership ability. Rotuma’s remote location also limits opportunities for rural women’s development due to high costs and unreliable inter-island transport. Therefore, many of the programmes for women is done in isolation with no direct budget to support local actions and contribute to national development targets.
Some of the major gender needs identified by respondents include:
- Capacity development on leadership and decision making, management, networking, project management, and financial management
- The need for livelihood opportunities and skills such as food preservation, health, and well-being and skills in handicraft making
- Sustainable land use, waste management and farming practices
The assessment has provided a strategic direction to LRI on the relevance and effectiveness of the proposed project to strengthening the role of women through the creation of self-sustaining alternative livelihoods for a resilient Rotuma
The full assessment report can be downloaded here: http://www.rotuma.net/os/lajereports/LRI_GNA_Rotuma_2019.pdf