Village leaders back economic empowerment of women

A workshop focused on the economic empowerment of nofotane women has been hailed by community leaders for the progress it has made in promoting gender equality. 

Notofane women refer to those who choose to marry into their husbands’ villages and with their husbands’ families, which often leads to economic and social marginalisation. 

Village leaders from the villages of Vaiee, Fusi, and Sataoa participated in the 12th workshop session for a project focused on empowering nofotane women through entrepreneurship and self-employment. 

The project is led by the Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.) to improve access of women from the Safata constituency to sustainable employment.

The project has been funded by the European Union. 

The economic empowerment of nofotane women challenges social norms about gender roles and men typically being breadwinners in a family, so the presence of chiefs and high chiefs at the women’s gathering was highly welcomed. 

The S.V.S.G. added that the workshop emphasised that a change in behaviour and attitudes towards nofotane women across Samoa is a necessity. 

These women are referred to as the protectors of families, the peacemakers, or simply put, the ‘go to person’ for anything needed at their homes. 

They are seldom recognised for being the first to rise in the morning, and the last to go to sleep, to ensure that her family is well taken care of, given this amounts to simple expectation. 

The presence of village leaders at the Vaiee Nofotane Programme was symbolic of recognition, acceptance, and acknowledgment by men of women’s important roles. 

Some of the nofotane women who shared stories of change to inspire others included: Tiomai Ah Lam of Vaiee, who is now a nofotane woman of Falelauniu; and Mauli Teo Pelema from Fagafau Savaii, now a nofotane woman of Vaiee. 

The Support Group’s work in the village communities have been made much easier by the acceptance of the group by the villages as a family making it more sustainable. 

The S.V.S.G. President, Siliniu Lina Chang, thanked Lealaimunā and Polima Mapusaga, as well as Pauga Tiitii Tuiletufuga who are the S.V.S.G. village representatives at Vaiee, for coordinating the gathering.

“We greatly value the patriotic spirit the men had brought to the forum and their support for the women,” she said. 

“Thank you also to the partnership with the European Union for funding this important project for the nofotane women of Samoa, through the Civil Society Support Program.”

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