The women of Samoa marked International Women’s Day with a celebration to remember on Tuesday night.
Held at the Tanoa Tuistala Hotel, it was a sensational night where women from all walks of life gathered to reflect on the achievements of women, especially the efforts to increase the number of women in Parliament.
The celebration was organised by U.N. Women, United Nations Development Programme [U.N.D.P] and Pacific Leadership Program [P.L.P].
It was attended by female candidates who competed in the 2006, 2011 and 2016 General Elections.
U.N.D.P Resident Co-ordinator, Lizabeth Cullity, congratulated all the courageous females who took up the challenge.
Deputy leader of the H.R.P.P, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, used a famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt to motivate the women of Samoa.
“Speak softly, carry a big stick and you will go a long way,” Fiame reminded the gathering.
“Your words are meaningless if you do nothing. It is one thing to talk, but it’s more important to walk the talk.”
She reminded the gathering that women are the givers of life, the nurturers and the ones who find a way to push through even the steepest of obstacles to fulfill the needs of the people we love.
Fiame then invited all the women candidates who contested the election to speak about their experiences and share the lessons they learnt.
Fiso Evelini Fa’amoe, an educator, is proud of her experience.
“I am a winner because I played by the rules and I am a clean winner,” she said.
“I gave it a try and like they say, you will not succeed every time you try. It’s not about falling down, it’s how fast you get back on your feet and prepare to run again.”
Having said that, Fiso encouraged the gathering to “never give up easily.”
Speaking of her experience of the election, Fiso said it was an exciting experience and she learned a lot from it. “I learnt that money is the most powerful thing in this country, not words,” she said.
“I have money, but I am grateful to God for not letting me give them out to people. Because the reality of things is that people’s vote were bought with $10 and $5.”
Fiso said the fact that Fiame was elected as the Deputy Leader of the ruling party was another reason why women should celebrate.
“This is history and it has set a pathway for us and our daughters to follow.”
Lastly, she warned all the men to “watch out” for women in the next election.
“We will rise again and be prepared for that.”
The aim of the event was to celebrate the political commitment, the leadership and the efforts of the women candidates and also to create a network of women who want to become M.Ps. It was the first time that U.N.D.P, U.N. Women and P.L.P. partnered together.
The initiative was part of the Increasing Political Participation of Women in Samoa (I.P.P.W.S.) programme.
The I.P.P.W.S. is a joint programme between U.N. Women and U.N.D.P, in partnership with the Government of Samoa and the Australian Government. The U.N. theme for this year’s celebration is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it up for Gender Equality.”
The theme calls for governments to make specific commitments for working towards gender equality.