UNDP Promoting Women in Politics in Samoa and Beyond

Aug 29, 2017

Consultation was held at the Taumeasina Resort conference centre and included some of the most influential women in Samoa. Photo credit: UNDP/N.Vaa/2017.

UNDP and UN Women were proud to host some of the most influential women in Samoa during a consultation for a project to promote Women in Politics in Samoa on 28 August 2017. An earlier phase of the project, titled the Increasing Political Participation of Women in Samoa (IPPWS)  sought to increase community awareness of the importance of women’s engagement in political leadership, work with women candidates in the run up to the 2016 elections, and to work with political parties to raise awareness on gender issues. With the first phase of IPPWS completed, the ‘Validation Workshop’ held this week was an effort to consult with all major stakeholders in the development of Phase Two.
 
The consultation was opened with a keynote address given by the Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa. She reflected on her own political journey and spoke about the importance of partnerships and drawing on the strengths of all advocates. Participants of the event stressed the importance of working collaboratively and came up with a variety of concrete suggestions as to how this could be done. The proposal is currently in its final stages of development and is expected to launch in early 2018.

Ms Lizbeth Cullity, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative addressed current situation in the area of women’s political involvement in Samoa, “Through the success of IPPWS Phase One, the 2016 elections saw a 300% increase in the number of female candidates running compared to 2011. However, we saw the sobering reality of female political participation in Samoa:  the need for a quota to reach 10% and the fact that it had to be triggered in 2016 to reach 10% showed the enormity of the challenges we face on our journey.”

The Sustainable Development Goals seek to change the course of the 21st century, addressing key challenges such as poverty, inequality, and violence against women and girls. Women’s empowerment is a pre-condition for this. In conclusion, Ms. Cullity emphasized that Samoa has become the region’s model and pioneer in political empowerment of women, and that creative, innovative ideas emerging from today’s activities may contribute to female empowerment across the region in years to come.