Women paid more than men! About time too!

Now that would be a headline that should turn heads and we hope so too!

Women are finally earning more than men in terms of average wages, according to a report released recently by the Samoa Bureau of Statistics.

The headline on the front page of the Monday June 17, 2019 edition of the Samoa Observer has already caught attention online, with close to 20 (and counting) shares.

The Bureau reported in its March 2019 employment statistics report that over half (56.6 per cent) of the estimated working population are men — who earn 54.5 per cent of the total wages — but when talking about quarterly average wages, it is the women who are ahead on $6,020 compared to men on $5,496.

We accept that there could be errors in the Bureau’s data, nonetheless it is just good to see the womenfolk of Samoa, finally pushing ahead of their male counterparts in terms of wages. And if there is anyone who deserves it more, then we can all agree that it is the women of this nation, who at most times are the ones to get out of their comfort zones to do it for both family and nation.

Last week, while we went about our work without much thought for what lies ahead in terms of Climate Change, Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa was in Australia putting the country and its leadership on notice in a keynote address in Melbourne.

“We applaud the change in policy in New Zealand because it aligns with what Pacific island states have been working and activating and advocating for.

“Australia hasn’t made that commitment. We respect Australia’s sovereignty, but we would hope not only in terms of regional relationships, but also global responsibility, that it will make that shift as well,” she said.

Over 15,000 kilometers away from Melbourne, where the Samoan Deputy Prime Minister was advocating for change in Australian government policy on Climate Change, 18-year-old Samoan woman Leilua Lino was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the sixth in the line of succession to the British throne, Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex.

She was among 14 innovators in international development who received a trophy, certificate and £2,000 (WST$6,743) at the Commonwealth headquarters in Marlborough House, London. The awards recognised, celebrated and showcased impactful innovations and forward-looking solutions, which help Commonwealth countries develop and advance the Commonwealth Charter values.

Leilua Lino was raped by her own biological father at the age of 9 and went under the care of the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG). Last year her evidence in Samoa’s Supreme Court against her own father led to his imprisonment for 29 years. Having the courage to use her own traumatic experience to reach out and advocate to potential victims of sexual violence, her Peace Garden initiative and ability to share the story of her ordeal has enabled her to reach out to thousands of children here in Samoa. She has become the voice of the voiceless, and is showing others who have gone through similar experiences, that there is a way out of the challenges that they continue to face.

And hundreds of miles out at sea, the Samoa Police Service-run Nafanua I charts its course for the French territory of New Caledonia, where it will make a stopover at Noumea, before it continues its final journey to Australia. On board are three female members of the Samoa Police maritime wing: Rosalia Manutulila, Annalieze Taumua and Suisui.

The three women, together with the 18 other crew of the vessel, have been charged with the responsibility to return to Samoa with Nafanua II. They are set to enter Pacific maritime history as the first policewomen to be deployed to sea.

Police maritime wing Constables Rosalia Manutulila, Annalieze Taumua and Suisui are working-class women, with hopes for a prosperous and peaceful Samoa through their work as the country’s first policewomen sailors. They are no doubt models to the next generation of aspiring Samoan policewomen, who together with male colleagues will enforce the law from the sea.

We can only hope that the statistics released recently by Samoa Bureau of Statistics is indeed a true reflection of the trends in this country. Numerous research has been done around the world, linking women’s productivity levels to the success of a national economy.

But the contribution of Samoa’s women to the country’s development agenda, can perhaps be more eloquently highlighted by the position of the United Nations, in that “empowering women in the economy and closing gender gaps in the world of work are key to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

Have a wonderful working week and a fabulous Monday Samoa, God bless.

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