Former Deputy Prime Minister Hon Fiame Naomi Mataafa took the opportunity to push for more women in Parliament during her presentation as a guest speaker at the FAST party community engagement rally for the Aana Alofi constituent, when she reminded the people of Fasitoouta and Faleasiu that from their villages, came Samoa’s pioneer women parliamentarians.
Leaupepe Taulapapa Faimaala Fuatino Vaovasamanaia Filipo (1932 – 2014) became the first female member of the Legislative Assembly when she was elected unopposed as Taulapapa in 1970 by Palauli West. She then switched to run under her Leaupepe title to Aana Alofi No1 and was re-elected in 1973, when she also became the first woman to be elected Deputy Speaker. The pioneer with two noble titles – Leaupepe from her father’s family, and Taulapapa from her mother’s family; then also became the first women Judge of the Lands and Titles Court.
Fiame, herself Samoa’s first ever Cabinet Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, listed other women from Fasitoouta and Faleasiu who had been supported by the Aana Alofi constituency to enter Parliament including the late Aiono Su’amataia Fanaafi Le Tagaloa, the late Matatumua Maimoagaisini and lawyer Maiava Visekota Peteru.
Fiame talked about the importance of women in Parliament and the decision in the past by Aana Alofi No1 (now Aana Alofi No2); to vote for women as their representatives in Parliament.
Fiame said the wise decision in the past should continue, and called for the constituency to support Faatuatua i Le Atua Samoa ua Tasi FAST candidate, Lolomatauama Eseta Faalata Mataitusi, to be the next Member of Parliament for Aana Alofi No2.
Lolomatauama Eseta is up against four men; Aiona Tile Gafa, Aiono Afaese Toleafoa Faafisi, Ape Tuau Letaulau of HRPP and Faletutulu Ameti Faletutulu of Tautua.
Fiame commended Fasitoouta and Faleasiu for making the historical decision to select a woman representative in the early 1970s, two decades before universal suffrage, and during a time when non-matai mostly women, were unable to vote in general elections for Samoa.
“Ou te maitauina o le itumalo lenei, i le taimi foi a’o tuufaatasia le itumalo, o iinei ma Faleasiu.. e pei o le itumalo lenei na latou avatua se tulaga ese i upufai o Malo, e ala i le filifilia atu o sui faipule tamaitai.”
Fiame told those who attended the FAST rally that as a long-serving Member of Parliament, she advises Aana Alofi No1 to look again at choosing a woman representative, because in times of difficult decisions and controversy, the voice of women becomes even more crucial in Parliamentary debates.
Fiame referred to Samoa customary beliefs that women are the mediators who resolve conflict and iron out issues within communities.
“Fasitoo manaia la tou faiga lea na avatu ai tamaita’i i le Maota, ma o la’u fautua faafaipule ua umi i le maota, a oo loa i taimi faigatā, ese le taua o le iai i totonu o tamaita’i. Aua o upu a le atunuu e fai i tamaita’i o pae ma auli, o latou e faamaopoopoa aiga.”
“O le mea lea ua oo nei iai lo tatou Malo ma upufai, ua luta luta le tai, manaia le sao o le ituvai o tamaita’i, ae o lea foi e tauave le mamalu ma le paia o suafa o tatou itumalo. Aiga manuia, atunuu manuia..e limalima faatasi tatou, o le pule a Alii ma Faipule, le sao a matai, ia ma le amanaia o ituaiga eseese e pei ona tulai mai ai tamaita’i nei sa agai atu i lo outou itumalo.”
Fiame also diplomatically covered all her bases, as in Samoan custom, where a matai from another village does not hold the right to tell another village what to do.
“E le faatonua e le faipule Lotofaga lo tou finagalo Fasitoo.”
Samoa’s track record of electing women into Parliament has not been good, triggering the temporary measure currently in place, to ensure that at least 10% or 5 women are in Parliament at any one time. Fiame stressed the importance of gender equality to ensure a high level of knowledge and skills in decision-making and leadership in Samoa.
“Voices should be heard in Parliament” “Ia lagona leo i totonu o le maota o Samoa”
FAST has seven women candidates for the upcoming general election in April; five from Upolu and two from Savaii. The ruling HRPP party also have several women candidates vying for seats in the upcoming elections.
“E ese le taua Fasitoo pe a faaauau ai pea lau fu’a lea sa faalele i tala faasolopito o upufai o Malo, ae toe faafoi atu Lolo e fai ma sui o lo tou itumalo”
Lolomatauama was a teacher for persons with disabilities and according to Fiamē Parliament needs Members of Parliament like Lolomatauama, who can bring her knowledge and years of experience of the education sector into Parliamentary discussions and decisions involving this key pillar of development for any nation.
“Education is not just about school buildings, but strategies set by Government to implement effective educational programs..”
“Tasi lea poutū o atinae o soo se Malo o aoga, e manaomia faipule e ulufale atu i le maota e unaia atinae nei. E le na’o faleaoga, e taua faleaoga ae o le anofale o faleaoga, o faiga faavae a le Malo e faatino ai aoga, o mea na e manaomia ai le tagata e iai le atamai ma le poto masani i soo se vaega e taua mo le atinae.”