Anama Solofa* is at home on the ocean, she has sailed on Va’a Gaualofa to Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.
She has also completed the Savai’i Crossing twice with the Pualele Outrigger Canoe Club.
Anama is now a Fulbright Foreign Student Program scholarship recipient, currently studying for her Masters degree in Marine Policy at the University of Maine.
Ms. Solofa is taking the small islands’ voice to the world, linking her experience working with the Ministry of Fisheries in Samoa and at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P.) with her studies of international policy development.
This is her story.
“I have worked as a fisheries manager, a biodiversity conservation practitioner, and am currently studying marine policy. So, I would say that the ocean, particularly ocean resources management, plays a significant role in my life and my work.
I think my decision to pursue a career in ocean resources management stemmed from growing up in the Pacific region, understanding the important links that the ocean and its resources has with the culture, traditions and history of Pacific peoples, and becoming more aware of the need for sustainable use and development of ocean resources for the economic benefit and livelihoods of Pacific Island communities and countries.
There were times when I was working as a fisheries manager, when it was more challenging to be taken seriously by stakeholders, compared to my male colleagues.
This could also be attributed to generational differences: fisheries management was a male-dominated workplace at the time; many of my male colleagues had decades more experience than I did and, therefore, had stronger working relationships with stakeholders.
I have since come to know a growing number of Pacific island women pursuing—and succeeding—in ocean management-related careers, taking strides in areas that I had not been able to in my time as a fisheries manager. I have also been able to develop my own career in areas that I had not previously thought to explore.
In both cases, I think the guidance and mentorship of both women and men already in the field who were willing to share their experience and knowledge with younger professionals, have made the difference in overcoming those challenges.
With that in mind, I would encourage women who are actively engaged in ocean resources management to seek out and mentor younger/new ocean resources managers – regardless of gender – to continue building on the work that has been and continues to be done for management of the ocean’s resources.
I think decision-makers are becoming more aware of the role that women play in coastal and marine activities and more inclusive of women’s perspectives and experiences in the decision-making process. However, there is always room for improvement, and this will only happen with continued inclusion and incorporation of the perspectives of women.” - Women Ocean Leaders at the UN Ocean Conference/SPREP
To read about more Pacific Woman Ocean Leaders, go to bit.ly/2qaceHB online.
* From 5 – 9 June, the United Nations Ocean Conference is underway at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, bringing the world together to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water. In commemoration of this event, we bring you this special celebrating Women Ocean Leaders of Samoa.