United Nations Women Representative; Ms Sandra Bernklau
First Secretary, Fiji and Pacific Regional Gender Equality - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Jane Kierath
Deputy Director Development, Mongolia and Oceania, Government of Canada; Luke Myers
Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Local Government; Dimity Fifer
Special Administrators and Chief Executive Officers, Municipal Councils
Market Managers
Market Vendors Association Executive Committees
Invited Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula vinaka and a very good evening to you all.
I am extremely honoured to be here at the first Market Vendors Association Awards Night hosted by United Nations Women. This is a very special evening, as we come together to celebrate the leadership, to recognise the hard work and to appreciate the success of our women market vendors. Tonight’s event is dedicated to you, good ladies.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Fijian Government recognises the critical role women play in our nation’s development. There are women who are farmers, producers, investors, caregivers and consumers and they contribute immensely to the country’s economic and agricultural development. In the Pacific, women make up an incredible 60 to 80 per cent of market vendors.
In recognising the critical contribution women make towards economic growth, local leadership and community stability, the Fijian Government recently appointed seven teams of
Special Administrators to lead the governance and strategic oversight of the 13 Municipal Councils across Fiji.
Of these seven teams of Special Administrators, three are chaired by women, including Ms Debra Sadranu, who is here tonight as Chair of team of SA for Nadi and Sigatoka Municipal Councils. In all, there are now 28 Special Administrators leading the respective Municipal Councils, with 11 being women.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We also have a lot to celebrate with the transformation in Municipal Markets. As a result of support from UN Women, the Australian and Canadian Governments, and the Fijian Government, there are now 70 per cent of women in key leadership roles in Market Vendors Associations, compared to 30 per cent five years ago.
Women’s participation and representation at this level is critical to prioritising the needs and issues of women market vendors.
Women in leadership positions drive decisions and resolve issues with Councils in a way that is gender balanced and empowers women at the same time.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased that the Fijian Government has invested in promoting Micro, Small and Medium business opportunities across Fiji.  Government has seen the value in investing in infrastructure to create the best enabling environment and opportunities for doing business.
As part of the Fijian Government’s commitment to modernising Municipal Market infrastructure, the Government and the Municipal Councils have invested in the expansion and redevelopment of Municipal Markets. The Nausori, Namaka and Rakiraki Municipal Markets redevelopment project, have seen a total investment of $22.2m by Government and the Municipal Councils. 
The new Laqere Municipal Market, built at a cost of $7 million, will relocate 50 road side vendors within the Township and accommodate 340 new vendors.

The Rakiraki, Namaka and Savusavu Municipal Markets have been co-funded by the UN Women’s Markets for Change project with UN Women contributing $4.3m for all three markets.  We also acknowledge their assistance in developing accommodation centres in Ba, Labasa, Sigatoka and Suva markets.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The Markets for Change Project’s success lies in the fact that the key drivers of the project are the market vendors themselves.  It is truly encouraging   to see women market vendors actively participating to ensure markets serve their interest better.
This inclusive approval has resulted in improved gender responsive market facilities for everyone and ensures women market vendors have access to improved and safer working environments. And as a nation with climate vulnerabilities, we have incorporated climate adaptive designs into market infrastructure to withstand Category 5 cyclones.
The Ministry of Local Government and the Municipal Councils have been working very closely with UN Women over the last four years to empower women vendors to significantly improve their economic and social lives. 
We need to ensure that there are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory environments, and promote gender equality. It is worth noting that the male vendors have also benefited from the project in terms of financial literacy and sustainability programmes. This has resulted in secure, productive and sustainable work opportunities for both women and men.  
Furthermore, through the UN Women’s Markets for Change project, vendor training programmes have helped to improve governance at municipal markets and encouraged vendors to play a key role in supporting Municipal infrastructure in the area of cleanliness and good use of markets.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Institutions, systems and structures often restrict women’s economic opportunities, while gender roles and status can limit women’s voices and choices when it comes to household and community decisions.
Addressing these barriers to women’s participation in economic activities is incredibly important in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The existing Market by - laws are outdated and are being reviewed. It is imperative to modernize them to suit the change in people’s behavior and needs. We currently have different Market by-laws for different municipalities, which are inconsistent and confusing. The objective now is to have one regulation for all the Municipal Councils, which will ensure consistency across the board on areas such as allocation of stalls; opening hours; tenancy agreements and they are to be complied with by all the Councils across the country.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
All Councils need to ensure that appropriate systems and processes are in place to enable efficient service delivery for the whole community. The Suva City Council has begun these important changes by is considering a change in opening hours of the markets. A consultation will be held with the vendors and relevant stakeholders to come to a consensus on the days and timings of the opening of the Suva market.
This change will ensure more people are able to do marketing at their leisure during the times that suit them. The change in the opening hours will then come into effect on 1 December 2019.
In addition to the opening hours at Suva City Council, new tenancy agreements will be developed between the Council and market vendors, kiosk holders and bean cart vendors. This is to set the guidelines within which the vendors will be expected to operate.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Coming back to tonight’s event, the market vendors who will be receiving their Awards are representing the 12 markets of Levuka, Savusavu, Labasa, Nausori, Suva, Sigatoka, Nadi, Namaka, Lautoka, Ba, Tavua, Rakiraki in  seven Award Categories.
The successful recipients were identified against evaluation criteria for each Award and assessed by an independent panel. Criteria included having a clear vision; accountability; great planning, financial and representation skills and the ability to lead by example.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to take this opportunity to thank UN Women, the Australian and Canadian Governments for their generous assistance, support and providing technical expertise. 
This journey since 2014 has been transformational and the project’s success lies in the fact that the key drivers are the market vendors themselves.
I commend the 12 Market Vendors Associations for their progress and honour the women who have taken on leadership roles.

I once again congratulate all the women market vendors who will be receiving Awards tonight. I salute you for making the effort to improve your lives and the lives of your loved ones. Reflect on the positive changes in your family, community and the nation at large.
In my Maiden Speech in Parliament in November last year, I informed Parliament of the tireless work and sacrifice my late mother made, not only in raising me, but in helping other women groups. We all come from humble beginnings and any challenges we face as women, should not be seen as barriers, but tests. Tests to prove that we can accomplish anything if we put our mind and hearts to it.
So keep reminding yourselves of the special and tremendous work you’re doing and keep the momentum going. Our economy is only as good as the individual units that encompass it.
With those words, congratulation once again to all the nominees on your achievements. And if you’ve missed out on a prize, you are all still winners because you’ve made it this far.
Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Thank You.