UN Women hails brave Samoan women
The result might not have been a hundred per cent success for women candidates but that doesn't matter.
For Suisala Mele Maualaivao, Country Programme Coordinator of U.N. Women, there is now a platform for Samoan women to launch their careers in the political arena in the future and that’s an achievement.
“This is just the beginning,” she told the Samoa Observer on Tuesday night.
“I mean this is the first time we are implementing the Constitution and I think it was fabulous that four women were elected through the regular process of voting by the people.”
With one more woman to be added to make up the required five, Suisala said it’s an exciting time for Samoa.
“This will give us the chance to see how the process works. This is our chance to see how the system works and how it is implemented and also understand how the quota works so we can learn from it.”
Suisala paid tribute to all the women who were bold enough to take up the challenge.
“You have to start somewhere, and I strongly believe that this is a good start for our women. And it’s not the end for them, their journey has just begun.”
Change, she added, takes time.
“That’s why I am excited and impressed that we had a really good number of women standing up with the desire to make a difference.”
A lot of women candidates did not win because they did not have all their ducks in a row, she said.
“But at least they now have a taste of what it's like to contest and I am positive that they all learnt one or two things from their experiences and journeys.
“ Many may have suffered the disappointment of this election, but I am confident that they will come back stronger and now they will be able to see what they need to do in order for them to succeed next time they contest.
“They are fighters and I salute them for all their effort and courage and I look forward to seeing what they will be bringing in 2021 which is just five years away.”
Reflecting on the journey, Suisala said it has been remarkable.
“It was fantastic for all of us,” she said. “We got the chance to connect with each other and got to know other people and their stories which was wonderful.
“These women did not run because of the quota. They felt it in themselves that they needed to stand up and help make a difference by running in the election with the desire to help the people in their constituencies. That’s why we had more than two women running from the same constituency in the election.
“It was because they all cared about their people and they all wanted to make a difference.”
She believes our women have raised a bar and now men are going to work hard to meet that bar.
“This is a starting point and this is just the beginning, it will take time for our community to realise the leadership potentials of our women.”
Speaking of women’s potential to be leaders; Suisala congratulated Fiame Naomi Mata’afa for being elected as the Deputy Leader of H.R.P.P.
This can be a challenge for all the women in Samoa, she said.
“Let’s be honest, beside the Prime Minister, she is one of the long serving M.Ps in Parliament. Not only does she have a political background but she has also been in Parliament for a very long time.
“This is not about gender, the reality is that she is fit for the role and she has what it takes to be Deputy Leader.
“To me, I am proud of her and I am grateful for recognising her service and commitments to our country. She have done great things and had never brought our country down so I think she deserves it.”
So what’s their plan for the future?
“Tonight, we are hoping that our women will start to really think about preparing for 2021. 2016’s election is done and dusted and it is now time to look ahead and see how we can improve so that we are well-prepared for the future.”
Mele wants to plant a seed in the hearts of all the women in Samoa to believe in them, and remember that “if women succeed, the whole nation will succeed as well.”
“Time is waiting for all our women and we have five years to prepare them for that. Change is coming and it will definitely happen.”