The Minister and Permanent Secretary for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation met with International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group.

The aim of the virtual meeting was to brief the Minister regarding the IFC’s Gender Program in Fiji.

Minister Akbar commended IFC for supporting the Fijian Government in the designing of Fiji’s First Early Childhood Care Services Policy Framework that will foster better outcomes for children, including in health, safety and nutrition, and support for working parents.

An agreement between IFC and the #FijianGovernment was signed in Suva last year.

Minister Akbar said, “ The partnership we have with IFC will ensure the development of basic minimum standards for early childcare services and introduce a licensing and inspection system for service providers."

This important agreement comes in the wake of the 2019 IFC study titled, ‘Tackling Childcare: The Business Case for Employer Supported Childcare in Fiji’, that showed that 43 percent of the workforce have pre-school aged children but only eight percent use childcare services. Most working parents rely on family members or unqualified babysitters to care for their children while at work.

"We commend the Fijian Government for continuing to prioritize the development of early childcare services which we know will reduce pressures on women who overwhelmingly carry the burden of childcare, and which will also help provide them with a pathway to employment and better jobs,” said Deva De Silva, IFC Resident Representative to Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu.

“The development of this framework will provide vital assistance for working families while supporting broader economic growth, which is crucial right now as Fiji recovers from the damage caused by COVID-19.”

Mr De Silva also expressed appreciation for the leadership shown by the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation in advancing childcare policy in Fiji and gender-related issues more broadly. He noted the progress made in these areas underscores the strength and value of the relationship between the Government of Fiji, IFC and its development partners in the Australian and New Zealand Governments, and the cooperative approach to support families, businesses and the Fijian economy.

Minister Akbar thanked IFC for the commitment and the work done with the Ministry in developing the Early Childhood Care Services sector in Fiji including the development of policy reforms for childcare services.