It was not developed by researchers in a University institution, or initiated by an environment activist. Rather, it was created out of the innovative minds of the nofotane women who are turning waste plastic such as coffee mix, twisties, bags of rice etc, into colorful bags.
The initiative by the nofotane women are not only helping revamp their economy, but also learning about climate change mitigation (ie: refraining from burning plastic rubbish or dumping rubbish in waterways). This is the holistic approach taken into the economic empowerment of women, as they are now looking at their backyards with innovative minds, seeing what once was trash, as an opportunity to earn, while conserving the environment.
At the 25th livelihood training session at Vaitele, the waste bag initiative was the most popular skill in which the participants opted to learn. News of women from previous traning sessions now earning a decent living and helping clean waste from the streets, encouraged the nofotane women of the Vaitele industrial area, to learn the new skill.
For some of the nofotane women, they are now trying new patterns to make other colorful accessories. The bags are now selling for between $8 and $25 depending on size and quality.
And this is sustainable self-employment opportunity goal of the Nofotane Project implemented by Samoa Victim Support Group with funding support form the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality.
The program has trained over 3,000 nofotane women so far, with over 415 now earning a living from the products created out of the skills being trained on.
“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
President of SVSG Samoa