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Two years ago the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation started with a vision to ensure that all the villages in Fiji have access to sewing machines to establish income generating projects for women in these communities.
In its perseverance to fulfil this vision, the Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni this week handed over 230 sewing machines to 100 women groups from Macuata province.
The handing over of sewing machines was part of the Ministry's International Women's Day celebrations organised at the Civic Centre in Labasa this week.
Dr Luveni said the sewing machine program has provided an opportunity for her ministry to reach out to communities.
"These machines have been donated by the People's Republic of China, while others were donated by Government of India and Latter Day Saints Church. Altogether we have managed to have more than 2000 sewing machines for the women," she said.
Dr Luveni encouraged women in the northern division to put these machines to good use, develop their sewing skills and generate income for their families through sewing clothes.
The women's minister said that more than 800 women groups in Fiji have received two sewing machines and are making their own clothes and school uniforms.
"More than 20 women resource centres for women have been constructed throughout Fiji in the last two years and there are still more to come. There are poultry farms, fishponds, bee farms, vegetable farms, canteens and bakery projects owned by women. Traditional handicrafts have expanded by products of coconut shells, bamboo as well as products of seaweed," the Minister for Women said.
Soqosoqo Vakamarama Macuata Province president Mrs Senimili Dyer expressed gratitude and appreciation to the Fijian government for it commitment towards empowering women and making them become more self reliant. .
"These machines provide income-generating opportunities and enable the rural women to develop their sewing skills. I am talking on behalf of all the women in Macuata, these donations are a blessing for us and minister's presence here today has inspired the women to make a positive change in their communities. Women are agents of change; this message came out clearly in Minister's speech. We thank the current government for reaching out to the needs of the Macuata women and giving us women an opportunity to improve our livelihood," Mrs Dyer said.

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