Mala in a man’s world

RCS staff members Peethi Prasad (Left) and Raveena Mala (Right) showing their certifi cate during the World Customs Day celebrations. Picture: JONA KONATACI

In a sea of tough looking customs agents, Raveena Mala stands out from the crowd. The reason for this is she is not only short and lean but because she works in a predominantly male field.

The Vunika, Labasa, native has been a customs agent for 12 years. And she says the journey is far from over.

Ms Mala, who started her journey in the customs field in 2008, was awarded the World Customs Organisation (WCO) Certificate of Merit during International Customs Day celebrations two weeks ago.

“I started at FNU in 2008 and I graduated with a diploma in customs,” she says.

“I worked at various other places, like shipping companies. Then I got an opportunity to do an attachment at FRCS in 2009.

“After my attachment for six months, I started working for TNT. Then FRCS had a vacancy and I applied and I got in as a customs officer. That was in 2010. I was recruited to work in the ships account, which fell under the revenue division.”

Ms Mala was later transferred to the compliance section, where she spent her days doing customs bond audits, among other things. After this, she was transferred to the Suva wharf.

“Later, I got transferred back to revenue. For the last five years, I have been in tariffs and trade. At the tariffs and trade section, she deals with concession processing throughout Fiji.

Ms Mala says getting recognised for the work she does has made all her challenges worth it. She says the best part of her job is meeting people and helping them out.

“I’m quite happy to receive this award as a certificate of merit because in my work career, for the last 12 years I have worked in various sections and I’m happy finally that I’ve been rewarded.

“It’s a great honor for me and I thank WCO and FRCS for giving me this opportunity. It’s good they recognised our hard work at FRCS.

“Personally, I come from a farming background so it’s quite a very proud moment for me, Furthermore, it’s very rare for women to be recognised in work sectors like this. Compared to when she first started at FRCS, many women were now taking up positions previously held by men.

“I would like to think that it’s no longer just male-dominated, we ladies are also getting there. We are now in many leadership positions and that gives us the encouragement to keep moving forward.

“To all women who would want to join customs one day, I encourage you to work hard and show your talents.”

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