Young Samoan shortlisted for top Commonwealth Award

A young Samoan woman, Fusi Masina Tietie, is among 16 finalists in the international Commonwealth Youth Awards, chosen from over 500 candidates.

Ms. Tietie is the founder of Her Voice, an online blog highlighting Samoan women’s personal stories across different mediums, from photography to art.

As a shortlisted entry, Ms. Tietie will receive £1000 (T$2,033) to expand Her Voice, as well as a certificate and trophy. 

She is one of four Pacific finalists vying for the position of regional winner for the Pacific. Of the four regional winners chosen, one will be named Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2020, and receive £5000 (T$10,168).

Regional winners (one each from the Pacific, Africa and Europe, Canada and the Caribbean and Asia) win a trip to London for the awards ceremony in March, and a prize of £3000 (T$6100)

Last year’s Pacific winner was Bobby Siarani from the Solomon Islands and the overall winner of the competition was Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi from Nigeria for her initiative to end rape in her country, a service which has reached over 200,000 people providing pro-bono medical, legal, mental health, educational and empowerment services.

Her Voice, founded in August 2017, has a Facebook community of 1790 people and works with local photographers, makeup artists and fashion houses to curate the stories of the women the blog features. Each woman’s feature comes replete with a photoshoot in locally made outfits and 

Women tell their stories of entrepreneurship, social and professional challenges, and open up about domestic violence and teenage pregnancies. 

The Commonwealth Youth Award entries are based on the Sustainable Development Goals (S.D.G.s).

Head of Social Policy Development Layne Robinson said it is essential to bring youth perspectives to the international effort to attain the S.D.G.s by 2030.

“With now only 10 years remaining to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Commonwealth takes great pleasure in bringing these young people’s invaluable efforts to the global stage so their leadership can inspire others and accelerate meaningful youth participation.

“Their talent paired with tangible solutions sends a strong signal that they should be equal partners in the development agenda, not passive allies.”

Ms. Tietie is on the board of the Young Women’s Christian Association of Samoa, and works for the Ministry of Health.

Other finalists from the Pacific include: 

Sagufta Janif (Fiji)

Focus: SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production

Sagufta is the founder of ‘The Fusion Hub’; a social enterprise focused on addressing a lack of access to proper waste disposal methods in remote islands by upcycling waste materials and selling them as furniture, home items and accessories. The Fusion Hub has so far upcycled more than 400 tonnes of waste selling hundreds of items to clients. The Hub also employs single mothers giving them a sustainable livelihood and has helped set up two formal businesses that are now part of its supply chain.

Broderick John Mervyn (Fiji)

Focus: SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Broderick is the current President of ‘Ignite4Change’; a youth-led initiative which works to empower and educate underprivileged women and youths to grow inclusive governance, equality, participation and cultural preservation within local communities. The initiative runs several programmes including on public speaking training, local governance awareness, climate change advocacy, youth leadership and the protection of the Rotuman Language and Heritage.

Rinesh Sharma (Fiji)

Focus: SDG 2 – Zero Hunger

Rinesh is the founder of ‘Smart Farms Fiji’; an initiative that aims to provide a sustainable food production system by growing fruits and vegetables in a controlled environment all year round. The Smart Farm system’s produce is monitored through smartphone technology and saves up to 70 per cent more water than traditional farming methods. Smart Farms Fiji also runs the country’s first hydroponics course that teaches local communities to embrace modern farming practices.

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