By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – 20 OCTOBER 2020: Business woman and candidate for next year’s general election, Mulipola Anarosa Ale Molio’o is encouraging Samoan women to stand up to the existing challenges that hinder women’s chances in business and politics.
Mulipola is from a young class of enterprising Samoan women tackling the challenges head on such as taking a chiefly title and sitting in a male dominated culture, “to have my voice and our village women voices heard by the village council.”
It is a culture that is reflected in the representation of women in Samoa’s parliament with a mandatory requirement to have no less than 5 women MPs in parliament.
“There are women with the talents and potential to achieve higher things for their families and communities but the thought of sitting among the Alii ma Faipule in a village meeting scares them off completely,” said the Auditor & Company Executive.
For anyone including women to enter politics, they have to be part of certain activities within the villages, and such is presenting a monotaga and present during village meetings.
“I have spoken with many other women who fear not having the knowledge of the language used by the matais,” said Mulipola.
“And I tell them the best classroom to learn that language is to be there and sit among the men and observe, listen and learn from them, even the tactics the old men use,” she said.
Mulipola also challenge them not to think little of their talents, contribution and calling.
Fitting into different Levels
From the outside, one sees Mulipola traversing comfortably between various worlds.
There’s her life as a woman business executive with an Australian University degree and training.
Then she is an influential leader of her village women’s council, initiating village/community based projects to raise the women’s status and economic power base. She uses her knowledge and contacts to source funding to help village women projects.
Then there’s her role as a chief – sitting in the village council meetings. Then there are her many other roles as a Board Member of the refuge for abused women and children – the Samoa Victim Support Group and her leading role in her church community.
Parents – her main influence and inspiration
Like many others, Mulipola Anarosa Molio’o’s main source of guidance and support came from her parents, Fuiavailili Pua Taloaileono Ale & Solosolo Imeleta Taloaileono Ale.
Her father was a strict policeman who served in the Ministry of Police and Prison’s for 44 years. Like many Samoan fathers, she found tough love was their only form of affection.
“My father was no different. Instead of using his words and telling his children how to live, it was through his actions and the way that he lived his life that were the true lessons for me.”
Her father dedicated his life as a public servant and illustrated a strong example of hard work, honesty and integrity that became a pillar in his daughter’s life.
Her mother, Solosolo nurtured her children with the warmth, tenderness and comfort that only a mother could provide. While the mother and father approached parenting differently, the opposing styles enabled Mulipola to become assertive and tough, yet friendly and caring at the same time.
Women Inequality at the Village Level.
Mulipola points out that a woman who is married into the village – Nofotane, can serve and contribute to the women’s village all her life. But her contribution – monotaga – can never ever be recognized as long as she is not a title holder which means she can never ever be eligible to run as an election candidate for the village.
“It is an area we need to look into as I believe it directly hinders more women from entering politics.”
Sons and daughters need be treated equally
As a Board member of the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) she is very much aware of the endemic problem of domestic violence – an issue she is adopting in her platform as an election candidate.
“Violence comes in different ways may it be from a spouse, at a workplace or within your own close circle, your family and unless there is a balance in how parents treat their children, there will always be problems.”
But according to Mulipola, violence originates from the home environment and unless it addressed from within, violence continues to exist.
It was always the norm in the past and still is that parents put more emphasis in safeguarding and protection of their daughters over their sons, and the sons generally run freely.
“This gives the sons the idea that they are free to do anything and this has given them the wrong ideas on how they respect and treat women,” she said.
“Parents need to treat their sons the way their daughters are treated that they are both important not only in the eyes of the parents but within their household.”
Running under the FAST party, she subscribes to the party’s ideals in addressing families as the core unit to better communities given the very high level of abuse and domestic violence in Samoa.
The FAST Party slogan is: “Our Family, Our People, Our Nation, Our Culture & Christian Values is our Collective Responsibility.”
If she is successful, she will utilize all opportunities available to address and put an end to domestic violence.