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U.N. funds “Economic Empowerment of Nofotane Women” in rural Samoa

Apia, SAMOA — The United Nations Women’s Trust Fund for Gender Equality (FGE) is behind the newly established program in Samoa — “Economic Empowerment of Nofotane Women” in rural Samoa. Nofotane is the term used for women who are married into the family. In the Samoan culture these nofotane are expected to clean and cook for her husband’s family. In fact, the nofotane is expected to be the one who does all the chores around the house.

The UN in partnership with the Samoa Victims’ Support Group (Sulufa’iga mo ē Puapuaga is launching Nofotane program with Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi as the keynote speaker reminded that the SVSG in 2005, was set up with a limited purpose — only to provide for victims of sexual offenses. “Today, we bear witness to the growth of the Group, from just a provider of sanctuary for child survivors of sexual abuse, to a strong advocate for justice and for peaceful families. And this advocacy role is through awareness-raising in the grass-roots community, to address the social issues affecting our people.”

Tuilaepa said the goal of this project is for nofotane women in Samoa to have improved access to sustainable employment and to increase their participation in domestic and community matters. And this is through influencing a change in mindset in village leaders, to support the economic empowerment of nofotane women.

“For this project to make any difference in the level of recognition accorded to nofotane women in our families, SVSG will continue with advocacy training of its village representatives, to influence a change in mentality, in village leaders, in church leaders and in family leaders, so that women are equally treated as men. What the project aims to achieve is to improve the economic empowerment of women and to increase their participation in domestic and community matters.  This is because the capacity of women to bring about economic change for themselves, families and communities, is one of the most important contributing factors to achieving gender equality.”

In 2010, with funding support from the Government of Samoa, SVSG implemented the nation-wide ‘No to Rape & Indecent Act’ campaign.  It was a campaign that encouraged the victims of sexual offending to come forward, to speak out.

In 2011, SVSG with funding support from the UN Women’s Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, once again took to the community.  This time, through the Stronger Communities project to end violence against women and the momentum continues with the coming on board of the SVSG village representatives, volunteering to be the ears and eyes of SVSG in the village communities.

The PM said that in 2013, accessing support for women survivors of violence was identified as a concern and as such, SVSG with funding support from the UN Women Pacific Regional Ending Violence Against Facility Fund established the 24-hour free Help Line support, now sustained further by the partnership with Bluesky Samoa and Digicel Samoa.

The nofotane program announced early August 2016 that SVSG had received a grant of USD200, 000 to implement the two year program entitled “Economic Empowerment of Nofotane Women in Rural Samoa”, taking the advocacy role of SVSG to the next level. He said gender equality for nofotane women through their economic empowerment is the focus of this project. 

“Guided by UN Women’s mandate, the Fund provides technical and financial support to high-impact, innovative initiatives from women-led civil society organizations that demonstrate concrete results on the ground, especially for women in situations of marginalization,” Tuilaepa said.

He said that SVSG was one of the 24 top quality programs selected to be implemented in 2016-2018 out of 1400 applicants worldwide; A first for the Pacific region and for Samoa for the UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality.