Nofotane women celebrate achievements

More than 30 Nofotane women took part in a workshop focused on the economic empowerment of women while navigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During one of the workshops held at Vaipuna, women from the host village as well as some from Vaiala, Leone, Aai-o-Niue and Tufuiopa celebrated their completion of the workshop with their village leaders.

The workshop, also held around Savai'i and Upolu, allowed participants to speak about growing their self-confidence through the SHINE Self-Esteem Programme, which is organised by the Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.).

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

But the Vaipuna workshop was seen to be different from the other workshops because it came alive with a festive atmosphere as village leaders and trainers united in song and dance to celebrate the women's completion of the course. 

Out of the 33 participants in the workshop, 60 per cent are now self-employed, earning an income from the livelihood skills that were imparted during the training as part of the initial women’s empowerment programme in 2017.  

According to the S.V.S.G. President Siliniu Lina Chang, the project would not have been possible without funding support from the European Union through the Civil Society Support Program.

She added that they acknowledge donors and partners for the difference that the project continues to make in the lives of the nofotane women under the programme, with cascading benefits to the rest of the women in Samoa.

Furthermore Siliniu highlighted that the involvement of village leaders attested to two milestone achievements for the project within town area villages: increased recognition and support by village leaders of women's positive economic contributions and the importance of their participation in domestic and community matters; and increased awareness of employment rights of nofotane women and the importance of sustainable self-employment for the women.

One of the workshop participants with a success story, Salome Paulo of Leone, is an example of how becoming economically empowered led to a decrease in the risk of being a domestic violence victim.

The mother of 14, who has been at the receiving end of domestic violence due to the stressful economic situation at home, can now celebrate her journey. 

Ms. Paulo collects fresh flowers to make garlands sold at the nightclubs six days a week and her earnings have helped put all her children in school and support her husband financially. 

When asked about the risk of her experiencing violence due to her new economic independence, she smiled and with a thumbs up said: "No more violence!" 

Many more similar stories of positive changes in families have been shared by the self-employed nofotane women as the SHINE workshops continue.

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