Record women in election field
Twenty-one women will contest this year’s national elections with only multiple women vying for one seat in only two constituencies – Faasaleleaga 2 and Palauli 3.
Only one seat in Parliament is guaranteed to be won by a woman, the Member of Parliament for Lotofaga and former Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa. She is running unopposed.
This year’s enrollment is the largest number of female candidates to register for the election..
Some of the women are taking advantage of free workshops offered by the United Nations Development Programme (U.N.D.P.) and several partner organisations under the Women In Leadership Samoa (W.I.L.S.) programme.
Candidates who have participated in the workshops, which cover campaign strategy, communications and other areas of political campaigning skills are showing enthusiasm in their runs for Parliament, said U.N.D.P. Resident Representative Jorn Sorensen.
Eight women completed a course in November of 2020.
“We are very encouraged by it. We have had these workshops and we have seen how enthusiastic they are and how they have been involved and participated in the training,” Mr. Sorensen told the Samoa Observer.
“They are really keen to go out and make a difference in the community so we are very pleased with that,”
“We are pleased to be able to help women candidates. We do welcome that and as you know we partner with some donors as well so that’s great.
“We encourage them to work together to mutually support one another and help one another so hopefully that will get more women in while keeping it competitive in supporting one another.”
When Mr. Sorensen met the candidates, they hadn’t really thought about what it takes to run for public office, he said.
Social media as a tool for canvassing members of their constituencies is new to most candidates, Mr Sorensen said.
“When I met them they hadn’t really thought about what it takes to run in a sense that if you want to get out there, you need to get things in print, maybe you can use social media – and for many of the candidates that’s new tools of getting out among the community,” he said.
Currently, there are only five women in Parliament.
The Faasaleleaga 2 constituency is one of those featuring two women hopefuls: M.P. Gatoloaifaana Amataga Gidlow and newcomer Sua Vivian Betham Leota-Suatele.
Palauli 3 is also fielding two women candidates: Fiso Taranaki Mailei and Laulu Ianeta Chan Tung.
From Vaimauga 4, there is Maugaoali’i Faamanu Mualia; from Aana Alofi 1, there is Fesola’i Logo Tepa-Toloa and from Aana Alofi 2 there is Lolotauama Eseta Mataituli.
Running for the Aiga i le Tai constituency, there is Pouli Taialofa Naseri and from Siumu we have Atuatasi Katifa Bryce.
Contesting the seat in Vaa o Fonoti there is Taumainamoe Aufui Tuimalatu and from Anoamaa 1 the female candidate is Upuolevavau Agnes Togialeoli- Ugapo.
A female candidate in the race for the Anoamaa 2 seat is Toomata Norah Leota and from Faasaleleaga 1 there Matamua Seumanu Pulufanua.
Member of Parliament and Minister of Health, Faimalotoa Kika Stowers-Ah Kau is running for re-election against three men for Gagaifomauga 1; the Gagaifomauga 2 woman candidate is Manuta Lavamaile Uesilē.
Running for Gagaifomauga 3 is Faaulusau Rosa Lavea who is running against incumbent M.P. and leader of the Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) political party Laauli Leuatea Fosi.
Contesting Falealupo, Leota Tima Leavai, is an attorney; from Alataua Sisifo, while Member of Parliament Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau; from Salega 2, there is Mae’e Falefa Silva. In Palauli 1 Mulipola Anarosa Ale Molioo is making a tilt for office.
From Alataua Sisifo, there is Member of Parliament Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau; from Salega 2, there is Mae’e Falefa Silva and from Palauli 1, we have Mulipola Anarosa Ale Molioo.
That leaves a total of 19 seats being contested by women and 32 constituencies by men only.