For nofotane women, self-sufficiency breeds self-confidence

Close to 30 nofotane women from the Lefaga and Faleaseela district have spoken out about the need to change mindsets as part of their journey towards economic self-sufficiency amid the COVID-19 downturn. 

With hundreds of people unemployed in the tourism industry in Samoa, nofotane women participants in a workshop said that Samoa should look to the land and sea as an answer to an economy in freefall. 

Women from the villages of Faleaseela, Savaia, Tafagamanu and Matautu, Lefaga spoke about growing their self-confidence through the SHINE Self-Esteem Programme organised by the Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.).

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

The workshop was held in Savaia and the President of S.V.S.G.,Siliniu Lina Chang, said that the participants were women under its self-sustainability programme.

"They are change makers, simply because they have learnt to believe in themselves," she said.

Siliniu also thanked the European Union for funding support for the programme. 

The nofotane women of Tafagamanu relied mostly on the land for subsistence living. Using an abundance of coconut trees, these women created products from earrings to hair accessories to church decorations and many other products.

Those from Faleaseela, Savaia and Matautu, Lefaga said their creative products were attracting high demand from local and overseas markets.

The S.V.S.G.'s conversation with nofotane women who have survived violence dates back to 2015. The group said it helped them apprehend an understanding of the challenges, the fears, and the doubts that these women were facing.

The S.V.S.G. concluded the women’s inability to support themselves and their families financially was at the root of their problems.

The 13th gathering of the self-employed women and participants in the S.V.S.G.’s Nofotane Programme, was a testament to the creativity and successes of confident women who had achieved economic self-sufficiency.

But some women in attendance said that from a small act of respect from their husbands, to a recognition of their voices in family discussions, their work had brought them unprecedented recognition and respect. 

The women participants said the impact of the Nofotane Project had extended beyond the economic and social stability it had brought to their lives but also the changes it had brought to their sense of self-worth. 

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