As International Women’s Day approaches, Coffey takes a look at some of our projects and the women who are forging new ground in their communities.
Working to preserve and populate marine life by keeping poachers away is one reason why Verenaisi Qari enjoys being one of Serua, Fiji’s first female fish wardens.
“At training, they teach us about the way to approach and talk to poachers,” Verenaisi said.
“In most cases, these fishermen are armed and we are not, so being firm but respectful can go a long way to keep things calm.”
Verenaisi said the first hurdle was convincing other women in the village that women too could be good water police.
“When we were being trained in fish warden work, some women told me that this is man’s work and we should not do it,” she said.
“But I explained that we women are also harvesters of the sea, and we should also play our role in preserving our marine resources for our children. They became very supportive after that.
“Although I’m a designated fish warden, I have been a fisherwoman all my life. And all I can say is that fish seem to be coming back in numbers. At one time we had to travel for some distance to fish. Now at high tide, I can just throw a line from my house on the island and I will be able to catch very good sizes of fish.”
Programs to train fish wardens are delivered by Partners in Community Development Fiji, and funded by the Fiji Community Development Program, which is managed by Coffey on behalf of the Australian Government.