Malu I Fale campaign – Nurturing Safe Spaces for Women and Girls in Samoa

November 25, 2022

The concept of aiga, family, or home, is a sacred one in Samoa and the Pacific region. It is the center of every facet of life for many people. Violence against women and girls therefore is a scourge on the sacredness of that unit and must be eliminated at all costs.

In line with the focus on the family and home, the national theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism campaign is: Malu I Fale – Talatalaga e fa’afailele mo le malu o Tina ma Tamaitai ma Fanau (Being Safe in the Home – Intergenerational Dialogue for Nurturing Safe Spaces for Women and Girls). This is inclusive of persons with disabilities and vulnerable groups. It is a reminder of the context we live and operate in, and the values and principles of the Samoan people that determine the relational space between, and amongst each other, in the home and beyond.

When we value peace and harmony in our homes, the same is mirrored in the way we interact with each other in the village, office or in any public space. May we continue to encourage each other, especially our men and church leaders, to speak out boldly and loudly about this issue. May we be part of the solution to end violence through zero tolerance, and modeling positive behaviour, mentoring the boys in our lives to build healthy and equal, respectful relationships. Our solidarity speaks volumes to our ongoing commitment and actions at the national and international levels in ending violence against women and girls.

This year, we continue to unite in solidarity under the global theme, “UNiTE! Activism to End Violence against Women & Girls”. This is the theme for the United Nations’ commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, shining the spotlight on the powerful role of women, civil society, private sector, and communities, in collaboration with the government, to eliminate and raise awareness on violence against women and girls.

The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women initiative was established in 2008 to support women’s rights activists and the civil society-led 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence against women and girls[1].

Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent, and devastating human rights violations in our world today. Samoa is no exception. It occurs in every country and in every context; women and girls suffer from emotional, sexual, physical, and other forms of violence and abuse despite the many efforts to tackle this global crisis. The Spotlight Initiative’s global data indicates that 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

Gender equality is a human right and one of the many pillars of UNDP’s work in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developmentthrough the UNDP Gender Equality Seal Initiative, and joint UN projects such as the Spotlight Initiative, Women in Leadership, and Markets for Change Programmes.

A safe and equal environment for women and girls is paramount to the progress towards the SDGs. UNDP, through the joint United Nations and European Union’s Spotlight Initiative, has worked in partnership with the government of Samoa, CSO Reference Group, women, persons with disabilities, LGBTQI and civil society to prevent and respond to violence. This combined effort and strong partnership, leading to transformative results, was recognized with the global Leave No One Behind Award won by the Samoa Country Programme in September 2022 in Mexico.

UNDP stands with the Government of Samoa, civil society organisations, the European Union, and other development partners who are working tirelessly to end violence, despite the many challenges they faced because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Increased stress levels, economic and food insecurity, unemployment, and movement restrictions all contributed to creating conditions that have led to significant reported increases in the levels of domestic violence as the response to the global pandemic increased in scale.

Under Phase 1 of the Spotlight Initiative, UNDP supported the Nofotane project for women breadwinners during the COVID lockdown and restrictions. The Spotlight Initiative also supported the Samoa Victims Support Group and Fa’ataua le Ola helplines which facilitated access to psychosocial support services, safe spaces and counseling services for many women and children seeking help because of domestic violence during the pandemic. There was also a marked increase in advocacy by the women’s organisations and male champions through the Civil Society Reference Group, community-based organisations, and the Village Family Safety Committees which advocated for and facilitated a shift of mindsets, and many other achievements.

UNDP continues to remain committed to the work required to end violence against women and girls, by supporting them not only during the 16 days of activism campaign, but for the rest of the other 349 days of the year as well.

Soifua ma ia manuia.