APIA, SAMOA: Ten individuals with diverse expertise in gender equality and women empowerment, have reaffirmed their commitment to serve as members of Civil Society Organisation-National Reference Group (CSO-NRG) for the Spotlight Samoa Initiative, when they endorsed the mandate and functions designed for the CSO-NRG to undertake, that were thoroughly deliberated in the CSO-NRG Induction Training, held at the Saletoga Resort on the 10 and 11 of September.
These functions, calls for the CSO-NRG to provide advice, to advocate, to partner and to ensure meaningful engagement with all stakeholders, for the realization of the Spotlight Initiative Samoa objectives, and to hold the Spotlight Initiative programme accountable, for its commitments.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator for the UN Multi Country Office for Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tokelau, Dr. Simona Marinescu who addressed the CSO-NRG through a virtual connection from New York, commended their dedication to be part of one of the critical bodies, in the governing architecture of the Spotlight Initiative Samoa programme.
The European Union Spotlight Initiative Team leader based in Fiji, Ms Ingrid Swinnen, also connected virtually to congratulate the selected CSO-NRG members. She also acknowledged the UN agencies for convening and facilitating this important training that aims to familiarize the CSO-NRG with the Spotlight Initiative programme and the expectations of their roles.
“The Spotlight Initiative is a global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.”
Launched with a seed funding commitment of €500 million from the European Union, the Pacific region has one regional programme and four country programmes of which Samoa is one of them that has received USD 4.3 million under the Spotlight Initiative’s €50 million envelope for the Pacific region. The Spotlight Initiative’s focus for the Pacific Region, including Samoa, is Domestic Violence (DV) and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).
The Spotlight Initiative places an emphasis on the role, leadership and engagement of civil society organisations to leverage the government ongoing efforts in soliciting people’s commitment to address DV/IPV.
The CSO-NRG is also very crucial as it is a body that is ‘people-centered’. The intersectional and intergenerational composition of the CSO-NRG in terms of age, gender and disability, the nature of their work, makes it a promising institutional mechanism that will provide quality advise in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation and meaningful engagement of all CSO and partners to achieve the goals of the Spotlight Initiative.
The CSO-NRG members in their institutional capacities have initiated or are involved in life-changing outreach and community programmes. They join the CSO-NRG not because of their own interests, but to advance opportunities that will benefit all, especially the ‘people’, who are vulnerable, under-resourced, marginalized and furthest to reach.
The CSO-NRG is now ready to take up their responsibilities to advance the course of the Spotlight Initiative Samoa with a tentative Work Plan in place, that will guide the delivery of their functions and to facilitate meaningful collaborations with the UN, the partners and stakeholders in the implementation of all interventions and activities to address DV/IPV in Samoa.
The Induction Training was jointly coordinated and facilitated by the United Nations Resident Coordinators Office with the UN Women as the Technical Lead Agency for the Spotlight Initiative, and the support of the UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA and UNESCO.
The ten members of the CSO-NRG are;
- Lemau Palaamo – President of Soul Talk Samoa – Pastoral Counselling agency
- Helen Tanielu – Academia and Researcher, Data Analyst on Ending Violence against Women and Girls (EVAWG)
- Mataafa Faatino Utumapu – General Manager for the core Advocacy organization for Persons with Disabilities, Nuanua o le Alofa (NOLA) and a woman with disability in Samoa.
- Samuel Fruean – Operational/ Administration/Finance expertise at Samoa Victim Support Group
- Walter Vermeulen – Executive Director of Matuaileo’o Environment Trust Inc (METI) & Coordinator of the Samoa Education Network (SEN)
- Fagalima Tuatagaloa – Founding member and Vice President of the Samoa Fa’afafine Association/SOGIESC Activist
- Fuatino Pamela Sua – Secretary General – Samoa National Council of Women (SNCW)
- Gabrielle Apelu – Founder of Apelu Sports providing consulting services in Gender Equity, Sports, Health, Education, Leadership, Inclusion and Environment
- Lualua Namulauulu Tautu – Mayor and Village Council Member of Asaga village (Savaii)
- Taimalelagi Ramona Tugaga – Accredited Gender Based Violence Counsellor – Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre