Fiji says “Times Up”
On January 1, Hollywood told the world that the time for sexual harassment in the work place, inequities in pay structure and sexism, was up. This month, Women in Business Fiji followed suit as they lounged the 2018 Women in Business Awards. President Nur Bano Ali announced that for this year’s theme, the Women in Business Awards would be standing in solidarity with the ‘Times Up’ movement, and calling for an end to unequal opportunities for women and harassment of any kind. The hashtag, #timesup, can be seen across all platforms of social media as prominent male and female personalities around the globe stand against the injustices that women continue to face in the workplace. This movement followed the Weinstein effect in Hollywood and a similar standing in solidarity behind the #MeToo campaign. Women in Business Fiji is an example of taking advocacy past the computer screens and into the homes and workplaces of women and girls across the country. The WIB awards has consistently inspired women with years of celebrating women’s corporate achievements, hoping that by making these leaders visible, more will be encouraged to step up and challenge the status quo. Speaking to maiLife magazine, Ali highlighted the reality of cultural structures and how they have made some women hesitant about celebrating and acknowledging their achievements. “Societal structures in Fiji are such that they don’t encourage women to go out and put their hands up, to apply for an award or to be a winner,” Ali said.
“As soon as she becomes a winner, everybody cheers her along. But no one will nominate her in the first place, and we need to break that. We need to take a proactive approach.” This proactive approach is visible in the process of nominations, where approval from the nominee is not required for their name to be submitted for an award. Speaking to launch attendees, Brett Hooker, General Manager of major WIB sponsor, Westpac Fiji, challenged everyone to celebrate a woman in the work force. “I challenge everyone here to take at least one application for and nominate someone deserving,” Hooker said. Hooker spoke on behalf of Westpac Fiji, a sponsor of Women in Business Fiji since 2003. This year they committed $75,000 to the awards and continue to set an example for corporations everywhere with their proactive approach in equal opportunities. 56% of Westpac Fiji employees are women and they continue to empower women through education, financial literacy workshops and the Westpac Women’s Education Grant. Hooker said that each year, it was tougher and tougher for the judges to select winners, but encouraged as many nominations as possible. The rewards of these nominations were seen at the 2017 Women in Business Awards as entrepreneurs, managers, employers and executives took home recognition of their years of hard work, sacrifice and battling a system that still has some work to do. The 2017 Westpac Business Woman of the Year was the managing director of Fiji’s largest exporter of value-added wood products. Manjula Dayal and many other women were celebrated last year and the time has now come for a new batch of corporate players to be rewarded for their time on the field. This year’s categories include the Business Woman of the Year, Executive Woman (awards for both public and private sector), Manager (awards for both public and private sector), and Aspiring Entrepreneur. There will also be the Employer of Choice, which ANZ Fiji won in 2017. Women in Business is sharply committed to increasing women in commerce and management at the highest levels, in order to bring about a change of attitude and stomp out inequities. Aligning themselves with this year’s UN International Women’s Day theme, ‘Press for Progress’, WIB will continue to push for the eradication of inequity and sexism. While there is much to be done in the corporate world to honor equality, progress is being made. And the faces of this progress will be celebrated come the night of the Women in Business Awards, 2018.
Applications close on 4 April, 2018.
Women in Business President Nur Bano Ali