The UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality has been working with the Samoa Victim Support Group in villages across Samoa to provide advocacy training for nofotane women, to give them greater agency and influence within their communities
The UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality has been working with the Samoa Victim Support Group in villages across Samoa to provide advocacy training for nofotane women, to give them greater agency and influence within their communities.
In the Commonwealth country of Samoa, women who marry outside their home village are called nofotane, meaning `stay or live with husband’.
They are often denied a voice or the opportunity to contribute to decision-making in their homes and communities and many suffer domestic abuse.
Beliefs and cultural practices that restrict women are deeply ingrained in Samoa, therefore the project looks to engage with Samoan male leaders who can set positive examples and influence others.
The nine month advocacy training provided by Samoa Victim Support Group, from July 2016 to March 2017, reached 536 village representatives across the Samoan islands.
This included Seualuga Tauasā Malietoa, the High Chief of both Manase and Safotu villages, who after receiving the training from the Samoa Victim Support Group, became an advocate for changing Samoans’ behaviour toward nofotane women.
In addition, a media campaign raised public awareness of the issue and advocated for nofotane domestic workers’ employment rights.
As a result of the Samoa Victim Support Group’s training and efforts to change attitudes about gender equality, a nofotane representative now sits in many village council meetings, and the traditional treatment of nofotane women as property is gradually being eradicated.
Samoa Victim Support Group recruited nofotane woman Taliilagi Salamo in October 2016, when they first came to the Fuailolo’o Mulifanua village to provide training.
She persuaded her husband, a high chief of the village, to support the presence of the Samoa Victim Support Group in the village at a council meeting in December 2016, and his voice was quickly joined by other village leaders.
Salamo said: “I am the living proof that a nofotane woman’s voice can be heard in the village council.
“This is a victory for all the nofotane women of Fuailolo’o Mulifanua, and a milestone achievement for Samoa Victim Support Group and the Nofotane Project.”
Mele Maualaivao, UN Women Country Programme Coordinator in Samoa, said: “We have been delighted by how the communities have embraced the changes in attitudes and behaviours towards nofotane women.”
“Giving nofotane women skills and recognition has in turn been a tremendous catalyst for attitudinal change within families and communities.”
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