Paving the way for future women Members of Parliament

Feb 9, 2017

The Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Lizbeth Cullity at the Women in Leadership Advocacy Group seminar on 9th February 2017, Apia, Samoa. Photo credit: PLP Samoa Country Programme/2017

A two-day seminar to discuss how best to increase the number of women in Samoa's future Parliaments was held at the Tradition Resort in Siusega. 

The event, organized by the Women in Leadership Advocacy (WINLA) Group, provided the opportunity for women in senior positions with Government, the private sector and NGOs to analyze the results of the 2016 elections, and identify areas of improvement for the preparation of potential women candidates, share lessons learned and look for ways to work with key partners. 

The Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Fiame Naomi Mata’afa delivered the keynote address. The seminar was well attended by women MPs, former candidates, Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), Civil Society representatives, and other leaders. The panel sessions provided a very useful opportunity to learn about the campaign strategies used by women who ran in the last election and by those involved in programs to support them. Each presentation was unique, and rich, in lessons learned. 

Panelists included: two women MPs, Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau and Faaulusau Rosa Stowers; Toleafoa Mara Hunter, a business owner; CEO of the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, Naea Beth Onesemo Tuilaepa; the Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Matthew Lemisio; and the Manager of the UNDP/UNWomen “Increasing the Political Participation of Women” (IPPWS) joint program, Gatoloaifaana Tili Afamasaga. 

Ms. Lizbeth Cullity, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative was invited to participate and observe the event. In the lead up to Samoa’s 2016 general election, the UN, through joint funding provided by UNDP and UN Women, supported a project to Increase the Political Participation of Women in Samoa (IPPWS) to increase community awareness of the importance of ensuring women are able to influence the national development processes through increasing their opportunities for political leadership; to work with women candidates to strengthen their capacity; and to work with political parties to raise awareness on gender issues.  

In her interactions with the group, the Resident Coordinator stressed the need for future candidates to invest more in developing their campaign strategies and underscored the need for a longer-term approach to building candidate capacity. “The knowledge and experience of current Members of Parliament is an important source for aspiring candidates,” she said. “We hope to support this work through technical assistance to the Samoa Women Parliamentarians Group to continue to advocate for women in leadership.”

The Resident Coordinator also pointed to the need to look carefully at pathways into politics. “Women’s leadership is notable in other areas in Samoa, so we are keen to see how that can translate into political leadership. This will entail looking at leadership more broadly, for example in government, business, communities, church, and schools, and identifying barriers and entry points for political representation.” 

The UN is preparing a proposal for the second phase of IPPWS, to be implemented from 2018 to 2020. The WINLA Group has decided to come together for a second seminar to focus on women who have been successful in politics in multiple elections, to speak about their strategies for electoral success. The date for this event will be decided soon. 

 

Article written by: Ms Francesca Mondello, Communications Consultant.

Contact information

Ms. Desna Solofa, UN Coordination Specialist

E-mail: desna.solofa@one.un.org - Phone: (685) 23670 ext. 34