Ta’i’s Take - O tama’ita’i o malu o ‘aiga: Ladies are family protectors

By Seuseu Faalogo 10 March 2024, 3:00PM

Mulipola Anarosa Ale-Molioo, the Minister of Women Community and Social Development, in delivering the keynote address to mark the World’s Women’s Day 2024, made this rousing call on all Samoans. Together, we must invest our efforts to create an environment in Samoa where every woman and girl can reach their full potential.

‘‘As a Samoan proverb wisely states, ‘E au le Inailau a Tamaitai Samoa’— women hold the strength and capability to achieve greatness, and by working together, we can ensure a future where their potential knows no bounds.”

While the minister may justly laud our women’s prowess in house-building (or rather house-thatching) many would prefer to recognize their role as protectors of family honour; pae and ‘auli, mediator and peace-maker; and most important of all, tina – mother; the main entity that the Hon Minister said was behind her own success.

On our country’s achievements by women, the minister noted that Samoa boasts 33% female representation on Boards of Directors, surpassing the regional average of 23.6% and the global average of 20%.

And that women outnumber men in public administration, finance services, health, and education industries, with 56.7% of senior executive roles in the public sector held by women.

Other interesting statistics show:

Women currently hold approximately 43% of senior management positions in Samoa.

Women comprise an estimated 22% of the judiciary in 2019.

Additionally, 28.3% of employees in the Ministry of Police Prisons and Corrections were women in the 2019- 2020 financial year.

• 22% of Registered Matai are female, with the majority of traditional villages having active women’s committees.

As of 2022, 44% of village representatives were women.

• Three out of twelve cabinet ministers are women, holding key positions such as Minister of Women, Community, and Social Development, Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, and the Prime Minister of Samoa.

But whie there is much to celebrate, the minister said, in terms of women’s contribution to our nation, Samoa still has room to grow…

• Samoan women have been identified as being ‘time poor’ due to challenges balancing economic roles alongside domestic and communal commitments. Typically, women spend more time than men undertaking unpaid care work and domestic work.

• The agriculture and the rural sector in Samoa identified three main gender inequalities:

Samoan women are likely to identify as ‘unemployed’ when, in reality, they engage in unpaid agricultural work; Samoan women are less likely to be reported as farmers in statistics and institutional reports; and Samoan women are not represented in agricultural decision-making, in general.

And then the minister commented on the shameful subject of violence against women and girls: The status of violence against women and girls in Samoa is a serious concern, with 38% reporting experiences of physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

The minister said Samoa has zero tolerance for violence against women and girls and that the family violence prevention and protection systems outlined in national policy [with] emphasis on the fa’asamoa principles of fa’aaloalo (mutual respect) and vā tapuia (sacred bond).

Nowhere in the written or oral Samoan tradition justifies beating of women or other members in the family, the minister said.

It is crucial to prioritize both service provision and prevention efforts as an unwavering commitment to effectively combat violence against women and girls.

It is vital that the government devotes its attention to the violence now reported in public transport. Surely the contract between the bus provider and the passenger is that the passenger be transported safely. It is time that bus owners pay for at least one guard a bus to protect the young girls and women now being openly molested on public transport vehicles.

It’s nice to note that the minister commends the creation of the inter-agency Essential Services Guide for Responding to Cases of Gender Based Violence and Child Protection, a partnership of the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development with many other agencies.

The IESG is a survivor-centred approach that aligns with the Samoan Government’s commitments under international conventions and complements national laws and policies, the minsiter says ‘Empowered by a circle of love and support, our women and girls will triumph over adversities and they will thrive,’ the minister confidently declares.


By Seuseu Faalogo 10 March 2024, 3:00PM
Samoa Observer

Upgrade to Premium

Subscribe to
Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy unlimited access to all our articles on any device + free trial to e-Edition. You can cancel anytime.