She is a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a sister-in-law. She is a nofotane. And above all else, she is a woman.
This was the overall take home message at the end of the 20th session of the SHINE Self-Esteem Program for the empowerement of Nofotane women (married woman who lives with her husband and children at the village or home of her husband or de facto partner).
The Program was held at Faleasiu-uta, attended by over 40 nofotane women who travelled all the way from Vaitele-uta, Salamumu, Vaiusu-uta, Vailoa and Faleasiu-uta.
Participating in the workshop was a 47 year old mother, a nofotane and now a church minister’s wife, Amela Mika Finau.
According to Amela, “of all my responsibilities as a mother, a nofotane and church minister’s wife, the hardest is being a nofotane woman.”
This statement came from a woman who got married, left her family at Vaiusu to live with her husband’s family at Faleasiu. Amela shares that she was immediately faced with all the inequalities that are inherent in the role of a nofotane woman in Samoa..
“You put up with it because you love your husband, so your priority becomes not only to your husband, but also his extended family. You have no say in the family matters and we learned to live with that. At any time when your views are sought, you know your boundries, of when to speak and when to keep quiet.”
The Chair of the SVSG Board, Georgina Lui said Samoa must continue to fight for sustainable changes in the environment that has become an acceptable norm facing our women in their husband’s families and villages.
“We must continue to advocate for a change of mindset and recognise the nofotane as a woman first, then her status..
“Together, we are challenging social and cultural norms that are harmful to women,” says the SVSG Chair.
Ms Lui extended a huge faafetai tele lava to the European Union for funding the sustainability project.
“I acknowledged the Sustainable Income Generation of the Nofotane Woman Project supported by the European Union, that allows SVSG to continue the momentum for gender equality, by building on previous preventative programs on gender based violence..
“It allows us to monitor the progress being made on the psychosocial and economic empowerment of women in Samoa, specifically the nofotane women,” added the SVSG Chair.
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