Giving Samoan women the right opportunities
It was warming to see a large number of Samoan women graduating from the short courses held by the Australia Pacific Technical Coalition (APTC) on Tuesday.
What was more amazing was the fact that a large number of women had taken courses in fields that are predominantly considered a man only field such as plumbing and construction. This a very good paradigm shift in the job opportunities that women in Samoa are looking at.
It was also good to note that more than half the graduates at the APTC function were women. These women are breaking barriers and paving ways for other women to take interest in courses and acquiring skills that were initially not thought of to be for women.
A number of these women were mothers and wives who would be sitting at home but now with newly acquired skills are looking at ways to contribute to the economy of their household, their villages and to the national economy.
The APTC’s short courses are a way to fill the gaps in the labour shortage created by the seasonal migration of workers in Samoa as well. We have plumbers and builders who are going to work on farms and for the time being they are gone, there is this skill shortage.
Now there is the question of providing these women with opportunities in the employment market. Are employers in Samoa willing to provide these women an opportunity to test their skills in the job market?
That is exactly what these women need to be doing now. Employers who are in the business that women have graduated in should allow a chance for apprenticeship and this would give these women a chance to use their skill in the real world situation.
If these opportunities are not allowed then the skills these women have acquired are of no use. It would be encouraging if the Government comes up with a plan to provide tax rebates to companies who provide such employment to women. Surely enough, this would be the right motivator for some companies and our women need it.
Samoan women have been leaving their mark all over the world. The current deputy prime minister of New Zealand has Samoan links, Samoan women born and raised in Samoa are heading the Ministry of Pacific People in New Zealand, a Samoan woman won a New South Wales government award, a Samoan woman is one of the top authors in the Pacific and above all a Samoan woman became the first woman in the Pacific to lead a nation.
Both individuals and countries benefit from women gaining higher education and work opportunities. Better educated women tend to be more informed about nutrition and healthcare, have fewer children, marry at a later age, and their children are usually healthier, should they choose to become mothers.
They are more likely to participate in the formal labour market and earn higher incomes. A recent World Bank study estimates that the “limited educational opportunities for girls, and barriers to completing 12 years of education, cost countries between US$15 trillion1 and $30 trillion in lost lifetime productivity and earnings.” All these factors combined can help lift households, communities, and countries out of poverty.
Samoa, like many other Pacific nations, needs bigger and faster strides to close remaining gender gaps. Across the Pacific, too many women are still unable to participate fully in economic, social, and political life.
Advancing women’s economic empowerment in Samoa stands not just to benefit women and girls, but their entire country and society. Data from UNICEF shows that a large number of Samoan girls are unable to seek employment after finishing off education and many to date are involved in domestic duties even after attaining education.
Allowing many of these young women opportunities to work in different fields would be allowing Samoa’s economy to grow and for many families to move out of poverty. As Samoans, we should also be encouraging our young women and even older women to take up education and gain skill sets in trade related work such as construction, automotive engineering, electrical work just to name a few.
The world is changing and work is no longer perceived as a man’s job or a woman’s job. If a man can be the greatest cook in the world, a woman can be the best builder too.
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