Helping men to empower women

Men from different villages in Samoa are being trained on how they can help the economic empowerment of nofotane (a woman who marries into a family) women.

The training is provided by the Samoa Victims Support Group “S.V.S.G.” and it targets it’s village representatives.

Last week, the men of Lepa and Lotofaga constituencies had the opportunity to take part. The training is part of the S.V.S.G. and the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality Project currently underway for nofotane women.

S.V.S.G village representatives from seven villages including Lepa, Saleapaga, Aufaga, Vavau, Lotofaga Matafufu and Sapoe attended the training. 

The aim is to improve their capacity and increase their knowledge on economic empowerment of women and how to advocate for this in their respective villages.

From experience, S.V.S.G. believes that behavioral change by village leaders are easily adopted by their followers.  As such, advocating for the economic empowerment of women, with a specific focus on nofotane women, through village leaders, is important to the success of the project, because village leaders are in the position of influence to bring about change.

A mixture of culture, spiritual and lifestyle were the focus of the views from the participants on the economic empowerment of women to achieve gender equality specifically for nofotane women.  

One of the high chiefs of Aufaga, Popo Faletagoai reiterated the importance of respecting fathers in a family. “Ia outou fa’aaloalo lelei i tamā o aiga,” he said, translated to “you must respect the fathers of the families.”  

Faletagoai Auelua of Lepa commented on gender equality in the sense that faiavā (a man who marries into a family) are treated the same as nofotane and how the project will help in addressing the same inequality issues faced by men. 

This was supported by the representative of Vavau, Toa Tagiilima who commented on the cultural aspect where each and everyone knows his or her place. 

The opening prayer by Reverend Malo Aofia of the C.C.C.S Aufaga set the tone of the discussions, where he talked about the importance of love in relations to families. 

Nofotane women will always be a nofotane; the project is not attempting to change this cultural aspect of the FaaSamoa.  The project merely aims to improve the economic empowerment of women and to increase their participation in domestic and community matters, as these are some of the most important contributing factors to achieving gender equality.

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By Hyunsook Siutaia 30/09/2020
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