Women contesting the General Elections have been inspired to reach for the stars.
The encouragement came during a two-day workshop, which ends today.
Organized by the Samoa Ala Mai Advocacy Group in partnership with the United States Embassy in Apia, the training is focusing on leadership and democratic institution building.
Angelina Wilkinson, the Charge d’Affaires of the U.S Embassy in Apia, addressed the participants yesterday.
“Democracy, fair election and women’s right are the cornerstones of society that the United States and Samoa share,” she said. “Samoa’s democracy and political stability is an example for the region from advocacy, participation and governance to expressions.”
Ms. Wilkinson believes women are still significantly “under-represented in both Parliament and local government”.
She said there is a greater need to strengthen and encourage female political participation in Samoa.
In that regard, she congratulated members of the Samoa Ala Mai for their efforts to encourage more women to enter Parliament.
Caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, reminded the candidates to be on their best behavior.
“It is very important not to be involved in any mischief at this late hour,” he said. “It’s time to behave like an angel. Keep smiling even if you don’t want to smile. Smile to anyone and everyone you see.”
Tuilaepa told them that it is vital to have a good relationship with the voters and other candidates.
“If you see your opponent in town, smile at them, give them a hug and a kiss on their forehead. You may never know that there might be people around looking at you that will end up changing their minds on who they vote for, once they see you do something like that.”
Avoid listening to rumours, Tuilaepa reminded the candidates.
“At this time, it is very common that people especially some of the candidates, will say that they have spoken with me and I have promised them to be Minister of Health when they win the election. Note to self that those are all campaigns and don’t let it influence you. “
Tuilaepa wished all the female candidates the best and reminded them to place their hopes in God.
“If you want to be a leader, serve!” he said. “And if you want to be upfront, be at the back. Your foremost responsibility is to serve your people to the best of your ability.”
American Samoa Congresswoman, Aumua Amata Coleman, also addressed the gathering.
Her main message for the candidates is “Never Give up”.
“That has always been my motto,” she said. “Contesting for the election is extremely challenging, but once you hit the jackpot, you will be able to do so much for your family, your people and your country.” Today is the last day for the workshop held at the Insel Fehmarn Hotel’s Conference Room.