Leadership and advocacy workshops held

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Participants of the leadership and advocacy road show.

Participants of the leadership and advocacy road show.

(Samoa Ala Mai) Another successful Leadership and Advocacy road show by the Samoa Ala Mai team was achieved in UPOLU constituencies of Mulivai Safata and Falealili last month - with both areas showing up in force on the 2 scheduled days despite heavy rain and winds.

Funded by the Civil Society Support Program (C.S.S.P) Samoa Ala Mai’s key message was to generate further awareness of women in leadership roles and how to capitalize on their existing skills through self assessment (S.W.O.T Analysis) and equip them with everyday tools to overcome risks and barriers to their growth as potential leaders. 

 It was a gloomy day in the Falealili constituency but it did not dampen the enthusiasm of participants who were eager to learn about effective leadership and women’s roles in the progression of Samoa. The gustily winds and heavy rain cut out the power for a good while but they agreed to press on in the dim light of the gloomy skies, huddled in a circle listening intently with some even attempting to write notes. The power did eventually come back on, along with the mental enlightenment of the participants regarding the different types of leadership and qualities. 

Mulivai Safata on the other hand, had bright sunny days for their workshops but the spirits of some 80 attendees were much brighter. Of the 80, 30 or more were young men and women, pulenuu’s and pastors which was an encouraging presence. 

There was a strong interest on Women rights and its application into domestic law. There were intense discussions on the makings of an effective leader (Good and not so good leader) and a male’s perspective on women in leadership.  It was refreshing to hear different opinions on what makes a good leader and different experiences of those in attendance. 

Once again like their Savaii counterparts, the S.W.O.T analysis took centre stage in the activities department in that; young people genuinely evaluated and made fair assessments on their strengths and weaknesses. Self assessment is so crucial if young women and men were to become future leaders and it was evident that many possessed leadership abilities but, for varying reasons, did not utilize them to their full potential.

Participants were also given the chance to conduct S.W.O.T analysis on any organization or group they choose and it was clear from their presentations that they had good understanding of how a S.W.O.T analysis can assist them in identifying opportunities, minimizing risks and overcoming barriers to being confident leaders. 

 This prepared the way for yet again a passionately driven debate between men and women about their opinions on whether women are adept enough for parliament.

The Falealili crowd were modest in their approach, but the Mulivai Safata group held nothing back with men in the opposing side arguing the age old ‘Eve was created from the rib of Adam’, to women being divinely assigned the role of support and to be life bearers to women being physically the weaker sex. The women responded with just as much verbal venom pointing out the many women who have smashed through the male dominated corporate world, to being recognized in parliament and holding many prominent roles in the international governments as well as right here in Samoa.

The activities were entertaining nonetheless,  but also provided valuable lessons for those in attendance about themselves and how they can think outside the box to create opportunities out of risks and turn negatives into positives so to better their chances of being effective and inspiring leaders within our communities. 

The take home for these workshops was to equip aspiring leaders both men and women to be accountable for their own development by understanding themselves first and foremost, being aware of critical social and political issues that can impact them and make informed decisions when in leadership roles or when electing their leaders, be it in the village, church or government. 

Judging from their participation, this objective was achieved and with a stringent follow up process in place, an elevated sense of awareness can be maintained within our communities about the effectiveness of women in country.  

The Samoa Ala Mai Team will continue to hold presentations in schools across Upolu and Savaii in the coming months. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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