Pageant to celebrate married women

The role of married women (maupaolo) will be celebrated at a pageant in the village of Vaie'e later this month. 

According to Tuia Logoiai Pu’a Letoa, the Chairman of the Vaie'e Safety and Development Committee, the January 24 event is also a fundraiser to help construct a new community hall for the village and Safata District.

The pageant is part of a day full of activities, beginning with a seminar - “The Elimination of Violence against Women” - which is expected to be attended by more than 400 men and women from the village.

“The Mrs. Vaie'e Maupaolo Pageant is a unique event for the recognition and celebration of the service of maupaolo women,” Tuia said .

Pageant entrants will need to be married to a man from Vaie’e.

“It is open to local and overseas residents and part of the event will include the presentation of service awards recognising the service given to the village by ten elderly Maupaolo women (70 years of age plus) at the commencement of the event," he added.

“The pageant’s focus is on the talents and inner beauty of the contestants [and] the theme of the pageant [is]: ‘Ia malu maupaolo’ or ‘protect maupaolo’.

“It is also a family show, depicting the establishment of the village of Vaie’e in ancient times: its structure, its honorifics and the arrival of women from other villages, who have brought their talents and their own ‘mamalu’ (heritage) to the development of the village.”

“The pageant is significant because it recognises and honours the silent service by women referred to as ‘maupaolo’ or ‘nofotane’ and the promotion of their status as women who should be appreciated within all villages.

“Maupaolo women are often viewed as ‘slaves’ to their spouse’s family and have no voice in decision making on any matters such as land and titles of her husband’s family. 

“Several maupaolo women have been injured, maimed and killed in recent high profile family violence cases in Samoa.”

He said the pageant, now in its second year, has been an effective way to change perceptions of and attitudes towards maupaolo.

“In the Samoan [culture] maupaolo means someone who resides in the safety and protection of the family she is married into," he said.

“The contestants will not be judged on their body shape or size, their beautiful face, their age or their cool attitude.

“Instead, they will be judged on their ability to show their talents, their ability to engage the audience and to show their values as women contributing to their families, church and village.”

Tuia also said a new community hall would be a significant step in the development of the village and district.

“Recent studies by the World Bank and others have highlighted that the one of the most effective ways to alleviate poverty is through effective acquisition and dissemination of knowledge," he said. 

“A multi-purpose hall will provide a venue for the dissemination of information and educational programmes which will result in the empowerment of ordinary citizens.

“Information is power and information allows citizens to formulate their opinions on issues and determine how to run their own lives and develop their communities for future generations.”

The hall will provide a venue for men and women, chiefs and the women’s Committees and untitled men to participate in events focused on the elimination of violence, developing self-sustainability and building skills in business, training and sports. 

“Such a venue will not only stimulate growth for Vaie’e, it will potentially provide employment and assist in eliminating poverty," he said. 

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