The newly set up Nofotane Market at the sub-village of Vaiafai Iva in Savaii, is the latest development of a European Union funded project by Samoa Victim Support Group, to support the ‘Sustainable Income Generation & Self Employment of Nofotane Women’ in Samoa.
Vaiafai Iva is about 6-8 minutes drive from the township of Savaii at Salelologa. It is home to five SVSG village representatives and 15 nofotane women empowered through the Nofotane economic empowerment program.
Having worked with the unemployed nofotane women survivors of violence of Vaiafai Iva since 2016, the transformation in the lives of these women todate is commendable.
One of them is Fetu Michael from Fatausi Savaii, who is now a nofotane woman of Vaiafai Iva. A mother of 6 who was busy with her stall at the Iva Nofotane Market when SVSG visited during the week.
Fetu did not learn a livelihood skill during the nofotane economic empowerment program in 2016. But she saw how the women who participated, were earning income from the skills they have learnt and she was inspired to become an earner herself. In 2020, Fetu requested to join the SHINE self-esteem program of the current Nofotane project and it was at this training that Fetu was reminded about her purpose, value and worth. From then onwards, Fetu had never looked back. According to Fetu, “Since joining the Nofotane Program, I started seeing the monetary value of any produce from our family plantation such as pawpaw, coconut, yam, taro and coconut. I even viewed my normal task of preparing food for my family as an added value to earning an income.” And that was exactly what Fetu was selling at the Iva Nofotane Market; fresh produce from the plantation plus a BBQ operated by relatives. Fetu’s ability to support her family as a bread winner proves valuable, especially given the financial hardships faced by many families due to the economic impact of the COVID-19.
Fetu’s husband, who works as a Bus Driver shared on the posivite changes in their family since Fetu was empowered through the Nofotane Program. “We are one happy family in Vaiafai Iva. Fetu’s market earnings has been a big help to us. There is no more violence as our financial situation has improved tremendously. We can afford to pay for our children’s education and a treat of ice cream every now and then. We have also opened up a savings account while being able to contribute financially towards the village and church obligations.”
With poverty being a risk factor associated with gender-based violence, SVSG’s ability to support the sustainable income generation and self employment of nofotane women, is an intervention towards this end.
According to the SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang, “It has been five years now since SVSG had taken up the economic empowerment of women in the fight to end violence against women. And it is stories of change as shared by Fetu Michael and her husband that speaks volume of the impact of such an approach in achieving gender equality in Samoa. Thank you to the European Union through the Civil Society Support Program for funding the continuation of the Nofotane Program since 2020.”