Ministry rolls out anti-violence awareness programme

The Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (M.W.C.S.D.) has concluded a 10-day programme that raised awareness on violence against women and girls as well as women health and hygiene.

According to a statement released by the Ministry, the programme was rolled out in rural communities with the support of UN Women through the Spotlight Initiative Samoa Country Programme, and provided statistics on COVID-19 and gender-based abuse as well as relevant resources and material to use to deter the pandemic.

Under the programme, community participation was also mobilised to empower women and girls, especially those in rural areas, or are heads of households or are experiencing multiple types of injustice. Information on what-to-do and where-to-help, in situations of domestic and intimate partner abuse, were also provided.

As part of the awareness, material including posters, children's snake-and-ladders game, pamphlets and a small booklet with infographics and details written in Samoan were distributed  to women and girls and their communities.

Helpline telephone of Samoa's gender-based violence frontline service providers, including details on how to access psychosocial assistance, were also distributed as well as information on the effect of COVID-19 on women and girls.

On women health and hygiene, ‘prevention packs’ comprising hygiene products, menstrual hygiene materials and a bucket [for use during water storage challenges and water insecurity] were also distributed.

The items in the prevention packs were selected based on the experiences of marginalised populations as well as the vulnerability criteria used by the M.W.C.S.D., and is tailor-made for women and girls in rural communities and women with disability.

Savai’i was covered between 31 August and 9 September by six teams from the Ministry as well as village women leaders. The teams gave priority to engaging and supporting the most vulnerable and the ‘most-furthest to reach’ families. 

The Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development Associate Minister, Salausa Dr John Ah Ching, emphasised the importance of an in-depth vulnerability evaluation that uses the local experience and skills of village women leaders to locate and help difficult-to-reach and marginalized families.

"Please take sufficient time to thoroughly demonstrate the accurate use of the hygiene products and explain in detail the knowledge products, so our vulnerable women and girls are aware of the support that is available and how to access essential services for ending violence," he said in the M.W.C.S.D. statement.

In one of the villages visited, a 25-year-old single mother became emotional, at seeing how the Ministry is reaching out to them. 

“We live so far away from town, thank you for thinking of us. Thank you, for now I know there is help,” she said.

The UN Women Samoa Office congratulated the Ministry’s Chief Executive Officer, Afamasaga Fa'auiga Mulitalo and the staff for the effort responding to the needs of vulnerable communities and facilitating the awareness and access to information. 

Under the Spotlight Initiative, it is a priority for all partners to respond to all types of violence against women and girls focusing on domestic and family abuse, sexual and gender-based abuse and negative practices, particularly in times of crisis when women and girls experience disproportionate impacts with far-reaching implications.

The Samoa Country Program of the Spotlight Initiative has repurposed US$20,000 through UN Women to support the M.W.C.S.D. initiative to ensure that no women or girls are left behind by national initiatives to respond to the social and economic realities of local communities during the pandemic.

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