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.