New study on Poverty and Gender in Fiji published by MDF

« September 2013 Newsletter

MDF stimulates investment, business innovation and regulatory reform to create additional jobs and increase the incomes of poor women and men in rural and urban areas around the world. MDF follows a systems approach to market development and supports businesses with innovative ideas, investment and regulatory reform that will increase business performance, stimulate economic growth and ultimately provide benefits for the poor – as workers, producers, and consumers. Currently, the focus of the Facility’s work in Fiji is in two key sectors: Horticulture and Agro-export; and Tourism and Related Support Services and Industries. MDF is currently evaluating a third, urban based sector to enhance its impacts on the urban poor. MDF selects is sectors based on their contribution to the national economy; long-term growth prospects, and relevance for poverty reduction.

To supplement its existing strategies, MDF has taken a deeper look at poverty and gender in the key sectors where it works in Fiji by conducting a study on poverty and gender. While the sectors were chosen because of their relevance to poverty reduction, the purpose of this study was to further assess within each sector: who is poor and why within the sectors; the mechanisms, choices and strategies they use to move out of poverty; and what prevents this from happening. In addition, the study is meant to analyse gender roles and controls, and ethnic differences so that its strategy and impacts can better reach both men and women of all ethnicities. Primary qualitative research in poverty and gender (with ethnicity as a cross-cutting theme) was conducted on Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Taveuni and the Yasawas between March and July 2013.

The full findings of the study can be found by downloading the study here: 130808_Fiji Poverty Gender Ethnicity_Final [876kb]

Overall findings are extremely positive for MDF’s potential contribution to horticulture and tourism in Fiji, and the integration and advancement of low-income women and men of iTaukei and Indo-Fijian backgrounds into the sectors. Horticulture and tourism are cornerstones of the Fijian economy, and offer employment and business opportunities as pathways out of poverty to large numbers of households and individuals within those households. Pathways out of poverty result from participation within the sectors and go beyond that, as surplus income is utilised to educate other members of the household and to advance their economic well-being. And, there is potential for systemic changes that can result in impacts beyond the life of the project. Despite this positive outlook, there are significant challenges for low-income households, and these vary depending on the sector and the context, including both geographic and socio-cultural.

The situation for urban poverty is more complex due to the multiple systemic factors that perpetuate poverty including the lack of employment opportunities for those living in informal urban settlements. Development of an urban sector by MDF will provide economic opportunities for individuals and households living in informal settlements, but the systemic issues are many and deep, and some go beyond the scope of MDF.

With a deeper understanding of poverty, pathways out of poverty; gender roles and gender opportunities, MDF can better identify opportunities for equitable growth which are relevant for all poor producers, workers and consumers.