Women during one of the Nofotane training and empowerment programmes in the rural villages
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 23 JULY 2018: The success of the Nofotane Project has seen the establishment of 500 small family based run by women businesses in the country.
The project initiated by the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) and funded by the United Nations (UN) came to an end last week, but has not stopped the SVSG from looking at other ways to get more funds to sustain the program.
Since the beginning of the project, 5000 women in rural Samoa, participated in various empowerment programmes to improve their access to employment and increased participation in domestic and community matters.
From that number, 500 women from 166 villages in Upolu, Savaii and Manono-tai have economically benefited from the program.
“These families now have a stable and sustainable income to develop their families, and 20 of these women are labelled as Star Earners, and received special awards and recognition at the official closing of the program last Friday.
“These are the earners who have been outstanding not only with behavioral changes been alluded to by members of the community, but also they have produced and earned from scratch.” said SVSG Board Member Mulipola Anarosa Molio’o.
The other successful part of the program is that the women already trained under the Nofotane program, are in turn advocating and training other women to be self-motivated, self-reliant and be able to provide for their families.
Village ban use of word Nofotane
Since the program, some villages have banned the use of the word Nofotane in a negative connotation but has elevated it to a word that can be associated with positive outcomes.
Nofotane refers to woman who is married into her husband’s family and carries negative connotations. From SVSG’s perspective, the word Nofotane is a degrading word, and when the program first started, they visited villages, families and workplaces to discuss the essence and goal of the program.
SVSG’s representative Pepe Tevaga said the program was not out to change the meaning or essence of the word Nofotane within the Samoan culture, but to change people’s mindset on how the word Nofotane could be interpreted in a respectful and positive manner.
“The programs goal was to recognize the effort and voice of the Nofotane in families, villages, workplace and even churches,” said Pepe.
“The ripple effect of the Nofotane women’s economic empowerment resulted in a community being sensitized on the issues affecting the Nofotane women and converse openly about these issues, ” said Mulipola.
According to SVSG, the open discussion of Nofotane not only reached Parliament last year but has been preached openly at church, discussed at village council meetings, and has empowered not only the Nofotane but the male counterparts or Faiava.
“There is now a positive mentality change towards Nofotane women, and it started from the Nofotane themselves, seeing their roles as a blessing rather than them being servants,” said Pepe.
To culminate the closing of the program, all 500 businesses showcased their products in front of the Government building last Thursday and Friday.