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February 8, 2014 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by: newsroom

By FARISHA AHMED

Grandmothers influence their communities with their knowledge and skills, says the Permanent Secretary for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Josefa Koroivueta (pictured). His comments follow the successful installation of solar electricity in 10 villages where 10 grandmothers from around the country were picked and trained at Barefoot College in India. The training was done in 2012 from May to September after which the grandmothers returned with ample knowledge to install solar panels in their communities. The solar panels installations were done in May last year and after their commissioning, communities have benefitted from the project.


Dr Koroivueta said the reason to engage women in this training was to add value to the community. “Grandmothers will stay in the community whereas if we had trained the youths, they would have gone out to explore greener pastures,” Dr Koroivueta said. “These grandmothers did not have any academic qualification or any merits hence they were given this opportunity to learn something different.

“They have come back with excellent knowledge and skills to solar electrify and help their villages to save lots of money since almost all the households were using lanterns and candles.”
“We saw that the grandmothers were able to influence their communities and the young people looked up to these solar engineers. When they returned from the training it shifts absolutely everything about their horizons,” Dr Koroivueta said. “It’s a life changing programme and it greatly complements the government’s poverty alleviation strategies to empower the disadvantaged and women to go to greater heights in being agents of change in their societies.”


The training was a joint initiative by UN Women, Barefoot College, the Fijian Government, the Indian High Commission and NGOs. It symbolises the ongoing commitment in addressing emerging issues of gender equality and sustainable development, where global initiatives have been identified to mitigate and provide solutions.