Training to empower violence survivors

Training focusing on empowering survivors and advocates to end the scourge of violence in Samoa has commenced at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel.

The training was facilitated in partnership with the Ministry of Communication, Information and Technology (M.C.I.T.); the Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

It began on Tuesday morning will strive to empower survivors of gender-based violence as well as raise awareness on the issue.

The Minister of Communication Information and Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupa’i, said in his opening address that there is enough data to draw conclusions about trends relating to violence against women and children in Samoa.

He said that his Ministry with the support of the Spotlight Initiative will utilise and manage its resources in the area of communication and awareness, in order to contribute to the effort to address the challenge.

"Radio 2AP will promote anti-violence messages to air the voices of you, our brave warriors, and to raise awareness at a nation wide level," he said.

Afamasaga said that the Ministry will partner with Tuiloma Sina Retzlaff to deliver the training needed.

The training will focus on the use of information and available data as a tool in participant advocacy work, he added, and use it to support victims of abuse and violence in their advocacy and awareness work.

As part of the advocacy, the Minister added that short public messages and short messages will also be aired nationwide on Radio 2AP.

"Most importantly, participants here today will be part of this nationwide solution, by using their newfound knowledge and understanding to work with all stakeholders, in addressing this continuing challenge in our community," he said.

The conference participants will also work with Radio 2AP broadcasters to produce key messaging content as well as short messages from members of the public, allowing survivors to be heard on radio nationally, while advocating that violence is not acceptable nor should be tolerated. 

It is understood that children from the S.V.S.G. Campus of Hope at Tuanaimato are also participating in the training which will support their advocacy work.

Afamasaga expressed confidence that the work being undertaken under the Spotlight Initiative will continue for the next six months, and will be another measure by the Government and its partners to address the challenge in the communities.

He then acknowledged with appreciation the funding assistance from UNESCO, the S.V.S.G. for its support as well as the M.C.I.T. and Radio 2AP for coordinating the initiative for the Government and the people.

Ms. Nisha of the U.N.E.S.C.O. regional office in Apia thanked the EU Spotlight Fund, which is supporting the initiative, clarified the partnership with the MCIT and the connection with radio. 

She said the radio has been used by society since its invention and is accessible to most people as a medium. 

"And M.C.I.T certainly because the first word after the word Ministry is Communications. Communication always has to have a purpose," she said.

According to her, the training will leave a practical skill with the trainees which is content and radio production, which according to her is a skill that they can use for their future, contribute to a process of social transformation but at the same time use it to advance themselves as a professional should.

Ms. Nisha explained that the programme with the MCIT uses the word survivors and not victims.

“We can stay victims if we want but the day we say, we are ready to rise, we have moved from a state of victimhood to surviving and rising from that state,” she reiterated. 

"And as we rise, we need to stand up for others.”

The S.V.S.G. President, iliniu Lina Chang, said it is not an easy task educating and training the children and added look at where they are now.

"It's a dream that everybody has been trying to put together and I thank you so much, the UNESCO Spotlight Initiative for bringing M.C.I.T and Victim Support together to have these kids have a dream realised and it's something very important for them," she said.

"Seeing the smiles in your faces this morning and having you prepared to come out today, it was something new to the campus."

The Spotlight Initiative is a global project to end violence against women and girls, with €3.5 million (T$10.6 million) allocated to Samoa on its mission to end violence. 

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