27 February 2019, Apia Samoa. Statement by Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi – Prime Minister of Samoa at the European Union-United Nations SPOTLIGHT Initiative-To eliminate violence against women and girls. Taumeasina Island Resort.
Rev. James Bhagwan
Honourable Presidents and Prime Ministers
Your Excellency Mr Neven Mimica, the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development
Your Excellency Ms Natalia Kanem, the United Nations Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund
Members of the Diplomatic Corp
Ladies and gentlemen,
I extend a warm welcome to all who have gathered today for this important Spotlight Event, especially those who have travelled from overseas to attend.0
I congratulate and commend the EU and the UN for this significant programme that will support countries around the world, including our Pacific nations, to further reinforce existing measures and interventions to end all forms of violence against women and girls.
Samoa reaffirms its commitment to the promotion efforts to address discrimination against women. The socio-economic wellbeing of our people remains at the core of Samoa’s development initiatives. We continue to strive towards equality and inclusion, to ensure that all Samoans particularly our women and girls, children and persons with disabilities, benefit equitably from economic and social progress. We also continue to commit efforts to combating all forms of violence against women and children by promoting safe families and communities.
Two important studies have been carried out on Family Safety and Family Violence by the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development and our National Human Rights Institution which reported a high prevalence of violence in the family and in particular against women and children.
The Family violence report by the NHRI was the first of its kind for Samoa and the Pacific Region. The report put a “spotlight” on gender based violence through its wide consultation process, which included village consultations, public and closed hearings and written submissions. The input from courageous survivors of violence were crucial.
The sad and alarming findings leaves no more room for excuses. It is time to focus on action. That is why this Spotlight event and initiative is timely. It should help continue to lift the veil of silence hiding the realities of family violence and keep the spotlight on Gender based violence.
I continue to call upon our political leaders, traditional and religious leaders, fathers, and families to acknowledge the widespread pain and suffering in which we are all complicit.
Enough is enough! Gender Based violence violates the core principles and values of faaaloalo (courtesy), va tapuia (respect), and alofa (love) among others, which are the essence of our Faasamoa and Faith.
For Samoa, we need a whole of country approach to address the issue with more proactive leadership by us the Government, village councils and church leaders; and strong partnerships with all relevant stakeholders and listening to the voices of the survivors.
Today, the European Union and the United Nations, with our Pacific leaders, representatives of development partners and civil society organizations have come together to initiate conversations and strengthen partnerships to eliminate domestic violence in the Pacific.
The success of the Spotlight Initiative in the Pacific depends on our commitment as leaders, the support of our partners and the engagement of our communities. As leaders of the Pacific, the change must always begin with us.
May today’s discussions be meaningful and promising.