Women undergo leadership, empowerment training

Women leaders of villages and non-government organisations are currently undergoing training on the power of values and belief systems.

The training of over 20 women leaders is being held at the Sheraton Hotel and Bungalows at Vaisigano, and focuses on affirming participants' values and beliefs. 

The four-day training is funded by the Australian High Commission with the age of the participants ranging from 20s to their 70s.

The workshop's facilitator, Fuimapoao Beth Onesemo-Tuilaepa, said it was important for women to not only have the skills and knowledge but also the confidence to take up opportunities in decision-making positions.

"So even if [we] ourselves are not clear on our values and selflessness, and kindness or if what we’re saying is not aligned to what we’re doing then we won’t have credibility and we won’t be the leaders that we need for a Samoa that is beneficial for everybody," she said.

Fuimapoao emphasised that personal transformation is required first, before seeking to effect change in villages or broader society. 

"So personal transformation is where to start and with a movement towards a social transformation, recognising that all of us are needed to do this work together."

A mix of women representing villages in the urban area, women leadership groups across various NGOs, and staff from the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development were present and recognised as partners in their goal to achieve gender equality. 

Fuimaopo said although it was a workshop targeting women of all backgrounds and ages, three men were also amongst the participants of 20-plus women.

"It’s not just working with women, we also have men present in the workshop this morning, because we are very clear that we cannot do the work to handle women accessing spaces for leadership and be part of decision making – if we are not engaging the men who are usually the holders of power and authority in many of our levels of government," she said.

A male participant, Eric Poe, told the Samoa Observer that as a director of Teen Challenge, there was always room for improvement in leadership and the workshop has reaffirmed that point of view. 

"Because you're not perfect and this program is important because it's to improve our knowledge and understanding on some of the areas that we need to improve in leadership," he said.

"Sometimes we think it's all good, not knowing change is more effective."

A representative of the National Teachers' Association, Gatoloai Fa'ana Afamasaga, said she had already participated in similar training before but wanted to learn more about the methodology behind the teachings. 

"As a teacher, I am particularly interested in the methods of delivery to enable learning to take place, particularly amongst adults because  its easier to teach young children than to teach young adults," she said. 

"That's the main focus of my participation. But it's usually very rewarding to hear actual changes amongst the participants, particularly amongst new learners. When they come in they go through the process and then to listen to feed back from them, and that's what we're hearing today."

The 72-year-old is hopeful that everything the participants will learn over the course of the workshop could assist them become leaders, or even better leaders and contribute to their communities.

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