Samoa gets first certified gender-violence Counsellor

Taimalelagi Mona Tugaga is the first Samoan to become an accredited gender-based violence counselor and joins 25 other specially-trained counsellors from 11 countries in the region. 

She is the general secretary of the non-government organisation Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of Samoa. 

The regional course, which was conducted in Fiji, is designed to strengthen the quality and culturally appropriate capacity of counselling services that deal with survivors of gender-based violence in the Pacific.

It was delivered by Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre’s Regional Training Institute (RTI)/Feminist Learning for Advocacy Research and Empowerment (FLARE), in partnership with the UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO), and endorsed by the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women.

Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre coordinator, Shamima Ali, said they have provided such training—based on international best practice—for 20 years. 

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“Now we’re taking the next step to formalise a Level 1 course to provide a standardised approach to support GBV counsellors, and help Pacific governments comply with GBV legislation,” she added.  

Zooming in on Recommendation 17 of the Family Inquiry Report on Family Violence in Samoa, Taimalelagi said this recommendation highlighted the need for qualified counselors in Samoa. 

“This approach, is strongly committed to human rights, a survivor centered approach, thereby supporting the empowerment of women of all ages and the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls in Samoa and the world,” she said.

The YWCA Samoa has had an impact in the communities through their programs, added Taimalelagi, and together with her training will give more credibility to their programs.

“Since the revival of YWCA in 2016, we have been working tirelessly towards the improvement and development of the status of women in Samoa."

“As the general secretary of YWCA Samoa, this has been a dream come true especially working with young women where counseling efforts come as a need for every woman going through Gender Based Violence,” she added. 

Tamalelagi dedicated her career achievements to women, whom she said said played major roles in her life, especially her late aunty, Laeimau Oketevi Tanuvasa-Savea.

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