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Dudley Women's Fellowship World Day of Prayer

March 5, 2010       Dudley Methodist Church, Suva

Rev William Lucas, Superintendent Indian Division
Rev James Bhagwan, Associate Minister Dudley Methodist Church
Mrs Elizabeth Dass, President Dudley Women’s Fellowship
Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning, Ni sa bula vinaka and Namaste

It gives me great pleasure to fellowship with you this morning on this auspicious occasion to mark the World Day of Prayer. I understand the Fiji programme is the first one this morning where the new day begins.

On this day, Christian women all over the world come together to observe a common day of prayer each year, and who in many countries, have a continuing relationship in prayer and service.

It is a movement which brings together women of various races, cultures and traditions in closer fellowship, understanding and action throughout the year.

I am told that through World Day of Prayer, women are encouraged:
•    To become aware of the whole world and no longer live in isolation;
•    To be enriched by the faith experience of Christians of other countries and cultures;
•    To take up the burden of other people and pray with and for them;
•    To become aware of their talents and use them in the service of society;
On this important occasion, women affirm that prayer and action are inseparable and that both have immeasurable influence in the world; indeed faith without action is dead faith.

The 2010 theme, let everything that has breath praise the Lord, is only proper as praising god recognizes and acknowledges that God is our supreme provider and the source of our very existence, whatever the situation may be. I need to praise God as it creates the environment to draw upon the almighty’s presence and power as god inhabits the praises of his people.

Women play a very important role in the development and progress of our communities and the nation as a whole. Government is fully committed to the advancement of women as articulated in the road map for democracy and
sustainable socio-economic development, 2009-2014.

To this end, government has ratified a number of UN conventions, declarations and protocols, namely:
(i)    Un Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1995;
(ii)     millennium development goals;
(iii)    Beijing declaration and platform for action 1995 ;
Government has also put in place a number of programmes and initiatives directed at women in development.

Supporting these is the formulation of new legislations as well as the review of existing ones including:
(i)    Enactment of the family law act 2003;
(ii)    Employment relations promulgation 2008;
(iii)    Crimes decree 2009, which also covered enforced prostitution, sexual violence, trafficking in persons and children, to mention some;
(iv)    Domestic Violence Decree 2009 ;
(v)    Prisons and Corrections Act 2005.

These are primarily aimed at the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, the advancement of women and the protection of women and children.
We all want our women and children to feel the safety of their homes, the safety of our streets, and to enjoy the freedom of living in a safe and peaceful environment. We want to build strong families because they provide a stable foundation for a strong law abiding community, which ultimately leads to a stable government. We want to maintain a peace loving society who share and care and willing to help those in need. We want to maintain a high moral standard and values in our communities, one that is founded on genuine love, peace and goodwill.

Much as we would like our country to be crime free, there is always the tendency on certain elements in society to be on the down side of the law. This is the challenge for us all, beginning at the family level, community, government, church and the civil society. I ask the question, who is to be blamed? I can confidently say that we should all take responsibility. We must work on a united front
to deal with our common problems and find solutions for the betterment of our children and future generations.

Unfortunately, we point fingers at those who commit crime without realizing who the culprit really is. The bible says that life is a spiritual battle. According to St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians – Quote “for we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers of this dark age”. Unquote.

It is, therefore, prudent that the church as the pillar of our spiritual development and growth must take the lead role in our fight against crime and other social ills that are threatening our communities.

Our gathering this morning and other church activities I am sure would help pave the way for dealing with the monumental task of crime prevention, poverty alleviation, HIV/Aids prevention, youth promiscuity, drug and substance abuse, to mention some. With our deep faith in God and our collective committed efforts, I am optimistic we shall overcome.

Even though women are still being marginalized in certain areas, it must be acknowledged that changes in the ingrained attitude and perception against women are taking place at a steady pace.In Fiji, women are at liberty to join civil society organizations and some of the most active civil society organizations which exist in the country are those headed by women.

Representation of women in decision making bodies continues to be a major challenge. To give you an indication, in government women hold about 17% of senior executive positions, mainly in the social sectors.

In terms of socio-economic development we fully acknowledge the great contribution made by our women in moving the country forward, for example, in the area of poverty alleviation, mainstreaming of women and gender concerns, elimination of violence against women and children, welfare of children and family life and rural development.

This World Day of Prayer provides a good opportunity for us as a nation to reflect on the important role of women (our mothers, grandmothers, aunties and sisters), and to recognize and acknowledge their great contribution to nation building and national development, in our quest for building a better Fiji for all.

I pray that God Almighty will shower his blessings on our women on this wonderful day and the days to come.

Thank you, Vinaka vakalevu and Dhanyavaad