New members, new approaches on gender violence
Two women selected to join the Civil Society Organisation - National Reference Group (C.S.O. - N.R.G.) will bring very different experience to the group but share the goal of working toward gender equality.
Those selected attended induction training held at the Saletoga Resort, as reported in the Sunday edition of the Samoa Observer.
The Samoa Observer contacted two of those selected, Ma'ilo Helen Tanielu and Gabrielle Apelu, about their plans to develop policies and goals through the group to help the vulnerable through the group that is part of the Spotlight Initiative.
(The Spotlight Initiative is a global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls)
Ma'ilo Helen Tanielu is an Academic, Researcher and Data Analyst on ending violence against women and girls.
She said that the training enables them as members to have discussions about their efforts under the Spotlight Initiative, specifically addressing the issue of violence against women and girls.
"The induction training was very important as it allowed us to meet other members of the C.S.O.-N.R.G. and then as a group to have key conversations around the main focus of our role and contribution to the Spotlight Initiative in Samoa," Ma'ilo said
Becoming a member of the C.S.O.-N.R.G is a result of the focus of her work on studies about eliminating violence against women and girls in Samoa.
"Being selected as a C.S.O.-N.R.G member is extremely important to me because as an academic I do research in the area of violence against women and girls and as a C.S.O. member; I do work in this area, all with the purpose of trying to eliminate violence against our Samoan women and girls," she said
"The significant meaningful engagement of C.S.O.s [is] in working on [eliminating violence against women and girls].
“Many reports, data and inquiries have shown, there is a lot of work still needed to combat [violence against women and children] and in particular domestic violence and intimate partner violence in Samoa."
In an interview with Gabrielle Apelu, the founder of Apelu Sports, she said that this is the first time that sports have been involved in national efforts.
Apelu Sports provides consulting services in gender equity, sports, health, education, leadership, inclusion and environment.
"Sports have long been used as a tool to address all sorts of inequalities, empowerment, and equal rights and now that we’re Spotlight Initiative, it’s good to shine the spotlight on the efforts sports have been doing over the past years," Ms. Apelu said
Sports have never been included in the international level policy-making legislation, and Ms. Apelu says that this would be very interesting for the aspect of sports.
"I’m very interested to see how that comes about because now there’s a big spotlight on getting sports to address the issues of inequality.”
Ms. Apelu has been involved with women in sports for over 20 years and seen issues such as discrimination and violence against women and girls up close.
Sports have a wide reach and public appeal and Ms. Apelu believes that they bring people together more effectively than any other way.
"It’s been a long time [since] we’ve effectively used sports as a tool to address it, and it’s just exciting for us that now we’ll actually be able to come together with all national efforts to address the problem," Ms. Apelu added
She is grateful to be involved and selected as one of the members to showcase how sports can help address the problems of violence against women, girls, children and people with disabilities.