Double Joy For Women In Mineral Department

Double Joy For Women In Mineral Department Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya with ladies from the Ministry of Land and Mineral Reaources during the International Womens Day Celebrations on the 9th of March, 2018.Photo: Simione Haravanua.

Thursday marked the best day for women in the Mineral Re­sources Department.

These were the words of emo­tional Ministry of Lands and Min­eral Resources director mineral development and acting director lands, Raijeli Taga, during the In­ternational Women’s Day and Em­ployment Relations Section 88 act amendment celebration at their of­fice in Nabua, Suva, on Friday.

Ms Taga, married with three children, has been an employee of Mineral Resources Department for over 27 years. She is originally from Rukua in Beqa and resides in Suva with her family.

She is a University of the South Pacific graduate and started her career as a Chemist in the Chemi­cal Lab at the Mineral Resources Department.

Ms Taga said the female staff members in the department have grown significantly.

“Before when I started, we were just a few of women working in the department and were fortunate to take monthly field trips to inspect the mines,” she said.

“Now, we have a significant number of females working in the department and since the bill has been passed, it is a milestone achievement for us women in the department to be legalised to work in the mines.

“It has created an opportunity for the young women to go into the mining engineering field as before it was mainly a male dominated in­dustry. For us women at the depart­ment, it has legalised what we do.”

She said her first experience when she walked into a mine was an eye-opener.

“I grew up in Suva and I had never seen a mine before. Walking into the mine for the first time was an eye-opener for me,” she said.

“Before it was the expatriates working in the mine and a few female staff but for office work. Back then, women did not go down into the mine because the law did not allow the females to go and work underground into the mines.

“For me, my job was to go under­ground and check on the environ­mental and safety issues. It was an amazing experience for me.”

She encouraged more young women to take up the mining engi­neering because the law now sup­ports and protects them.

“Now the door is open for all women to take up mineral resources pro­grammes and take the opportu­nities provided to them by the Gov­ernment.

“We are equal and women can do as much and as good work as the men in any field,” Ms Taga said.

Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources, Faiyaz Koya, attended the celebra­tion, hosted by the men in the Mineral Resources de­partment, to mark the mile­stone achievement of women in the department.

On Thursday in Parliament, the considerations of the Bill were raised by the Minister for Econ­omy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, and said the Employment Relations amendment bill for 2018 sought to remove Section 88 of the Act.

Section 88 of the Bill states that an employer is not prevented from prohibiting the employment of females in underground work in mines of all kinds except for the following:

  • in management positions not requiring manual work
  • in health and welfare
  • in education or training; or
  • For occasional non-manual work.

The Employment Relations (Amendment Bill) 2018 is expected to remove section 88 of the Act and it was outdated.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said in Parlia­ment on Thursday that in today’s modern Fiji there was nothing that a man can do that a woman could not.

The Bill would allow Fiji to max­imise its productive capacity as women will also participate active­ly in all forms of employment.

Mr Koya said it was a great achievement for the women in his ministry to celebrate the bill passed on International Women’s Day.

“It is a happy and historical day for us because we are marking the achievement of women with In­ternational Women’s Day and the amendment of Employment Rela­tions Section 88 bill passed in Par­liament on Thursday,” he said.

“There are a lot of successful women that have worked at the de­partment for many years and they have given their best contributions to the workforce.

“My department has led the way in women empowerment and I am very proud to see that the women in the department are able to do the same job with equal participation in every field of work,” Mr Koya said.


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