Nofotane women under Samoa Victim Support Group’s economic empowerment program to address gender inequality in Samoa
Five years ago in 2016, more than 5,000 unemployed nofotane women survivors of violence, who have sought help with Samoa Victim Support Group, were equipped with the tools to challenge their very low self-esteem, their marginalized status and their tolerance of violence as the norm. They were trained in livelihood skills while encouraging them of their worth, strength and purpose.
It wasn’t an easy task. We were dealing with mindset and behavior norms towards one of the most disadvantaged status group in Samoa – nofotane women.
Nofotane translates as ‘stay or live with husband.’ They are regarded as servants and are sometimes referred to as ‘lima ma vae’ which translates to ‘hands and feet’; their place is in the kitchen, and they do not have a voice or paid employment opportunities.
But that was five years ago. The Nofotane Women chose to challenge. They have chosen to be empowered, while still maintaining their motherly roles in the homes towards their children and their husbands. Only this time, they are more confident of their worth, strength and purpose. They became breadwinners for their families.
The socio-economic progress for the nofotane women is very important as we celebrate the International Women’s Day this year. This is given the COVID pandemic and its global socio-economic implications on a devastating humanity.
If there is a time where accelerated action for gender parity is called for, it is here and now. Women must and women should have the opportunity to play a full role in shaping the pivotal decisions being made on the village level and the national level, as communities respond to and recover from the COVID pandemic.
“As a women-led organization, I take this opportunity to convey a huge congratulations to all the women of Samoa, with a special acknowledgment of the brave nofotane women. You are our heroes, and we respect you all for your bravery.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
Happy International Women’s Day 2021 Samoa.
The 20 year old Miss Leitu Afasene of Satalo Falealili is counting her blessings, when a group of Samoan women based in New Zealand, who called themselves the Alofa Club, put together a donation that covers her first semester tuion at the National University of Samoa.
As a second year Faculty of Arts student, Leitu and her parents overcame the financial challenges of the 2020 COVID by successfully completing her first year. However, the financial struggle for Leitu’s parents, who rely solely on farming for a living, continued into 2021.
Being an SVSG Village Representative for Satalo, Leitu’s father, Onofiatele Afasene reached out to SVSG for any help with regards to his daughter’s tuition for this year. And the answer came through a group of committed Samoan mothers, who have been supporting SVSG’s educational welfare for children of underprivileged families, the Alofa Club.
The total Sememster 1 tuition of ST1176 was fully covered by the Alofa Club coordinated by Levaoatuamaaana-Aati Schuster, a former director of the SVSG Auckland sub-group.
And as the eldest of 8 children, Leitu’s commitment to complete her education despite all odds, is her expression of love for her 7 younger siblings. “I am studying harder so that I can get a job to support my siblings through their education.” says Leitu.
What a great lesson learnt from this struggling family; as the Alofa Club gave out of their love for the Samoan children; and the recipient of such generosity, is being inspired to complete her education because of her love for her siblings. “The giving of love is an education itself.” Elenor Roosevelt
“Thank yo so much Levā and the team for always reaching out to support the educational needs of children from underprivileged families here at home. We greatly appreciate you all.” Georgina Lui, Chair of the SVSG Board.