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Samoa highlights strides in gender equality at UN meet

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action has become the global benchmark against which progress on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is measured.

Samoa’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Aliioaiga Feturi Elisaia  shared how Samoa has adopted to inclusive development in his presentation at the Commission on the Status of Women 61st Session in New York.

“As part of our on-going localisation effort, let me share how we have “Samoanised” the Beijing Platform since we met last March,” said Elisaia.

“But like all multilateral frameworks, unless individual countries localise the targets and integrate them into national strategies and implement them faithfully, it will be difficult if not impossible for our women and girls to realise and benefit directly from the aspirational goals in the Platform of Action.

Elisaia raised concerns that although being a small developing country, Samoa has been able to adapt to sustainable development and promoted gender equality.

“Our vulnerabilities as a small island developing state have not deterred us from adopting a sustainable development framework that harnesses the importance of inclusive development and the meaningful engagement of all stakeholders in the process,” said Elisaia.

“As a result, gender, human rights and disability are mainstreamed across sectors to promote gender equality and equal opportunities for women, young people including persons with disabilities,” he added.

Elisaia also mentioned that Samoa has seen women and girls as powerful agents of change in their own right and must be an integral part of the solutions as they have a transformative and multiplier effect on sustainable development.

Elisaia presented some notable strides that has been made in the empowerment of women over the last 12 months in Samoa.

There is an initiative that targets vulnerable populations called “Small Business Incubator model to strengthen youth entrepreneurship and supporting people into jobs program”. This scheme provides start-up funds, business sustainable development training, and mentoring support.

“This initiative is focusing initially on families with children who vend in public spaces, persons with disabilities and women in the rural areas.”

“We also launched last year in December a national program called “Supporting Samoa’s Children Initiative (SSCI)”. This is a coordinated approach involving all key stakeholders like government ministries, National Council of Churches, Village representatives and the Private Sector. This initiative has a two-fold goal to ensure the safety of these children by giving the parents and the whole family training on how to run and operate a Small Family Business from the comfort of “HOME’, and to ensure that children are both safe and realising their right to an education and that social challenges are supported.

Basic business training and psycho-social support programs have commenced in February this year.

Elisaia also emphasized the ongoing community advocacy programme at the village level to “End Violence against Women” which is a multi-partnership one that is based on the Samoan Traditional Learning Methods.

To date more than 44,000 men, women, youth and children have already participated.

Another project that Elisaia mentioned was the “Samoa Women Shaping Development Gender” that is being conducted to a Follow-up prevalence study on Family Violence in Samoa which is expected to be launched mid-year once completed.

The study will inform the finalization of the “Ending Violence Strategy for Samoa” including resource mobilization.

“Our National Human Rights Institute has launched a 12 months National Inquiry with a focus on ‘Violence in the Samoan home’ be it in the extended communal setting or in the nuclear family unit. The primary focus will be on women and girls with attention also on the role and impact of violence on children as they grow up.”

The aim of the project is to foster a national dialogue in identifying the root causes of violence, the impacts on those involved, human rights which are violated, and make suitable recommendations to address the problem.

Elisaia also mentioned that the update will not be complete without a reference to the setting up of a focused Samoa Disability Program that has resulted in the completion of a CRPD [Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities] Legislative Compliance Review together with a cost Implementation Plan.

LoopSamoa   :Photo: Twitter/ PFS

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