Project promotes gender equality at Leauva'a
International Women's Day was celebrated with villagers of Leualesi Leauvaa taking advantage of the services provided by the REACH pilot project.
Leualesi Leauvaa was one of the five villages on Upolu where the project was piloted this week by teams from the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration and the Ministry of Women.
The project proved effective in Fiji and has been adopted by Samoa and Tonga to enhance citizens’ access to justice, women’s services in rural areas through the integration of service, and remote delivery at their doorsteps.
An initiative funded by the United Nations and UN Women, the project aims to achieve sustainable development goal (SDG) 5 - to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, and SDG 16 - to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable developments, provide access to justice for all, build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.
Associate Minister for Justice and Courts Administration, Sooalo Feo Mene said the celebration of women's contribution in society is unique in Samoa as the country is piloting the REACH project.
"In taking the lead in these services in Samoa, the law and justice sector through this pilot programme is committed to enhance access to law and justice services, raise community awareness towards these services and simultaneously allow equal opportunities for both men and women," Sooalo said.
"Equal opportunities are the face of fairness and transparency. To bring good decision making at all level, it means justice prevailed, safety ensured and peace maintained."
This year's theme "Balance for Better," Sooalo said wires the strengthening of gender equality and calls for equal opportunities and a change in typical old mindsets towards the capabilities of men and women.
"It is a cry out to the whole society to collectively make a stand to eliminate all forms of violence against women, a call for a violence free society, safer communities," he added.
"The role of women in leadership roles in Samoa and the Pacific should continue to grow at all levels, political, economic and public life, such is the hope of the drive by the Samoan Government for gender main streaming across all sectors, public, private, civil societies and community-based organisations.
"It is an indication and constant reiteration that gender equality and empowerment of women in society is cross-cutting, and it is only successful when all citizens are onboard and take ownership of its implementation."
Sooalo said it requires a whole community effort, from the Government, village councils, women’s committees, church leaders, youth, matai and families, and everyone to ensure that no one is left behind.
UN Resident Coordinator, Dr. Simona Marinescu said access to legal aid is priority for Samoa and across the Pacific given the very high incidents of violence and injustice in this part of the region.
"There’s a lot of work to do. And there are a lot of things to be done in Samoa," she said.
"We want those services to be designed by you; we don’t assume what kind of services needs to be available to you."
Dr. Simona said the project came as a response to calls from people around the world for daily access to services everywhere people live at a lower transaction by bringing services to the people.
"Globally over 4 billion people still don’t full enjoy access to justice, 250 million face horrible unfairness meaning slavery and completely being deprived of access to justice living in countries in conflicts."
The other four villages on Upolu that were part of the project were Uafato Fagaloa, Sapunaoa Falealili, Matafa'a Lefaga, and Faleasiu-Uta. Villages on Savaii to undergo the project next week are Tapueleele, Samalaeulu, Paia, Falealupo and Samata-Uta.