SVSG: Economic Empowerment of Nofotane Women in Samoa
“It’s all in my hands!” was the message that came out loud and clear during the first livelihood training session for the economic empowerment of nofotane women at the Aleipata district. The training was centered at Satitoa to cater for nofotane women from 10 villages of Tiavea, Samusu, Utufaalalafa, Amaile, Mutiatele, Malaela, Lotoipue, Satitoa, Lalomanu and Ulutogia.
This is the main and the last component of a 2-year project currently implemented by Samoa Victim Support Group with funding assistance from the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality, where an estimate of 5,000 nofotane women will be empowered with a skill to assist them with sustainable employment.
With the raw materials, the knowledge and the skills in commercial cooking, handicraft & packaging, flower arrangement & nursery and fabric printing, the nofotane women went to work. They worked diligently and with creativity, and at the end, they realized that they have value, they have strength, and they have a purpose as a nofotane woman. These three values are central to the self-esteem module SHINE, translated to ‘Tinā, o Pae ma Auli’ which forms part of the livelihood training program. Focusing on the value, the strength and the purpose of a nofotane woman, the module had been contextualized to the Samoan way of life, a fitting end, delivered at the last day of the session, to wrap up the economic empowerment of nofotane women. And the transformation was visible, as the nofotane women SHINE confidence from being empowered.
Before the livelihood trainers left the Aleipata district, nofotane women have started on putting their skills into practice, and have their families and neighbours sampling their products. They have started small, but it’s a start in their journey to become self employed as upcoming small business enterprenuers in their own village communities. Support networks have been established in the villages, and with training on basic financial literacy and presentations on micro financing available, the empowered nofotane woman is equipped to support herself, her family and community. All the achievements called for a celebration, and the nofotane women did exactly that, as they danced to celebrate their value, their strength and their purpose.
However, some have questioned if the idea of an empowered woman will bring about more violence in our community. And as strong advocate of stronger communities, peaceful familes, SVSG remains firm in its belief that addressing the gender equality issues faced by nofotane women in Samoa, is a step towards reducing violence in the community.
The goal of the project is for nofotane women of Samoa to have improved access to sustainable employment and increased participation in domestic and community matters. “A nofotane woman will always be a nofotane; the project is not attempting to change this cultural aspect of the FaaSamoa. The project merely aims to improve the economic empowerment of women and to increase their participation in domestic and community matters, as these are some of the most important contributing factors to achieving gender equality.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President