The four sub-villages in Satupa’itea on the south east coast of Savaii namely Pitonu’u, Satufia, Vaegā and Moasula were joined by three other villages of Maota, Vailoa and Vaitoomuli, during the 5th Workshop Session of the Sustainable Nofotane Program.
Despite the distance, the self-employed nofotane women gathered at Vaegā Satupaitea, eager to learn how to improve on their management skills, access to markets, the creativity of their products and fostering support networks with other nofotane women.
And for 2 days, the women left their small businesses to be run by their husbands including the caring for their children, while they committed themselves to learning. This small change alone, is testimony of the transformation in the lives of these women, and that of their families, following the women’s participation in the Nofotane Program over the years. Gender role stereotype had been challenged by the Project through the nofotane women, and we are slowly seeing positive changes.
The Self-Esteem Workshop follows up on previous Gender Equaltiy programs by Samoa Victim Support Group to assess how confident the women have become not only to assert their rights as women, but also to value their labour, and have their voices heard and recognized within their families.
The excitement amongst the women to share their stories of change and the articulate way they expressed their concerns regarding the challenges they are now facing as self-employed women, brought home the fact that these women have really found their voices.
They started to ask questions such as: how to better access markets for their products; how to be eligible for micro financing to expand their businesses; how to be more financial literate and many others.
These inquiries highlighted not only an attitudinal change by the nofotane women towards their previous situations, but most importantly, a mindset change for the betterment of themselves and their families.
The challenge for most of the self-employed women attending this sessiion is the distance between their villages and the hub of Savaii at Salelologa, and the further distance from the town of Apia in Upolu. As such, the women depended on the small shops in their villages or the nearby villages to sell their products. For others like Fiu Gray of Vailoa Palauli, she sets up her own small market in front of her house to sell a variety of her handicrafts.
With the on line market component of the Project, the nofotane women are looking forward to have their products access markets outside of Samoa or nationally, to other areas outside of their villages.
We can only say that things are getting better each day for the self-employed nofotane women as we bear witness to their hard work and endurance.
According to the President of SVSG Siliniu Lina Chang, “with funding support from the European Union in partnership with the Government of Samoa through the Civil Society Support Programme, SVSG continues to put the spotlight on the challenges faced by the self-employed nofotane women, and assist them accordingly with their new business ventures.”