While considerable resources have been spent in Samoa on issues of gender equality, few have engaged the traditional and modern forms of arts as a method of building capacity for grassroots mobilization for social justice, and ending domestic and intimate partner violence.
This sub-project of the Samoa Spotlight Initiative is once again, taken up by Samoa Victim Support Group, as the implementing partner of the UNESCO Pacific.
On the theme ‘My Village; My Pride’ – O lo’u Nu’u, O lo’u Mitamitaga, the programme will build on a performing arts campaign, using creativity and culture that aim to raise awareness while changing attitudes at the village level towards ending domestic and intimate partner violence; this is expected to have cascading benefits to all members of the village.
For the last three months, SVSG have been working with 8 targeted villages for this program (7 in Upolu and 1 in Savaii). SVSG initiatlly engaged the expertise of these village leaders on a research project with the University College of London, to develop a new approach to researching violence against women and girls that is uniquely Samoan. Part of the work being done todate by the village leaders, is the collecting of artefacts (myths, proverbs, photographs, drawings, maps) about the reasons why they think violence against women happens or how their village is preventing it. These artefacts is the basis for the performing arts awareness campaign in each of the 8 targeted villages for this Samoa Spotlight Initiative Program.
The performing arts awareness will be rolled out in the form of a 3-category competiton, between men, women and youths within each of the 8 villages. There will be a debate category amongst village leaders (men against women) on the village’s selected artefact; a women’s open category and a youth’s category, both competing on traditional dance, song or drama on the same.
The first village to kick start the performing art awareness on Thursday this week is Satalo Falealili. The community at Satalo, from the church leaders to village leaders to men, women and youth, are all hyped up for the event.
The whole idea, is to rebuild a sense of pride in ones own village (as per the awareness theme), in order for the selected village communities to take up ownership of eliminating domestic and intimate partner violence from within.
The outcome of the programme should see an increased recognition and support by the village leaders in the 8 selected villages, of the combined contributions of its members in ending domestic and intimate partner violence; and an increased awareness by the villagers of its traditions and how reliving such traditions (through performing arts), will support a community-based approach to ending domestic and intimate partner violence.
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang acknowledges once again the work in partnership with the Samoa Spotlight Initiative, specifically as a partner of the UNESCO Pacific, in addressing domestic and intimate partner violence against women, through performing arts awareness.