On Saturday 20 February 2016, Fiji was hit by the strongest cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere. Wind gusts of over 300kmph flattened villages, destroyed crops and damaged critical infrastructure. Around 98% of the population has been affected, the majority of whom are women and children.
People like Sofia. Pictured here at her farm, Sofia explains: “We placed so much expectation on our farm to help us pay for our expenses, including my children’s education and medicine. We need to salvage what we can to help us cover our expenses.”
The women of Fiji already faced rates of violence double the global average and the aftermath of the cyclone puts women at an even greater risk of sexual or physical assault, even as they work to rebuild their homes and livelihoods. Local organisations that offer women and girls support and shelter have also been devastated and are struggling to continue to provide services to women and girls who need them more than ever.
Meanwhile, the destruction of market buildings and crops not only deprives thousands of women and their families of a secure food supply, but also their main source of income.
Women in Fiji need somewhere to turn if they experience violence and support in rebuilding their livelihoods
UN Women is providing organisations with the funds and technical support they need to continue offering essential services to the women and girls of Fiji, while also working with local partners to create temporary market spaces that give women opportunities to sell their produce and access essential information about relief and protection services.
UN Women will also be working with partners to provide women market vendors with tools, supplies, seeds and training so they can replant their gardens and get back on their feet as quickly as possible; while also working with local governments to rebuild market buildings that have either been severely damaged or completely destroyed.
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