“Taking the initiative” sums up the second livelihood training session for the economic empowerment of nofotane women at the Safata constituency. Centered at Fusi Safata, the training catered for women from Salamumu, Sa’anapu, Sataoa, Fusi and Tafitoala.
The aim is to train unemployed nofotane women on livelihood skills such as commercial cooking, handicraft, flower arrangement and fabric painting. But after the first day of the training, the nofotane women of Safata initiated other income generating ideas such as dying chicken feathers for entertainment costumes (kiki), as well as dried fau for flower arrangement and/or leis.
Some women introduced their own materials for products such as sei, using the siapo, while others opted to use fabric paint to make the sei more appealing.
It was all about using the opportunity presented to these women to initiate ideas of their own. This is empowerment in the making; and for the women to take the initiative to start something from nothing, contributes to the sustainability of the economic empowerment of the nofotane woman.
The second livelihood training at Safata also highlighted the importance of the support network within families, and village communities, for women who chose to pursue a small business venture utilizing the skills being trained on. For these women, they did not look far for this support as they chose their husbands. This was evident by some of the women who had their husbands with them at the training, cheering them on and at times, helped them to master a skill well.
Having husbands attending the livelihood training with their wives was something the project did not anticipate, yet, this shows the successful advocacy role, played by the SVSG village representatives, who have been advocating to the village, church and family leaders, to support the economic empowerment of nofotane women. This is a step towards changing mindsets, an important requirement for the goal of the project to be achieved.
Village leaders also came on board and supported the economic empowerment of women. Pauli Afoa, a high chief of Tafitoala requested separate livelihood training, specifically for the village of Tafitoala, so that all women in the village will be empowered with a skill to help their families and the village. This is the kind of change in mindset in village leaders that is necessary for the project to be sustainable.
SVSG President expressed the Group’s gratitude to the village leaders of Safata, and also to the husbands, for supporting the economic empowerment of the nofotane women in their constituency. “You are the important support network for the nofotane women, especially those keen on starting small businesses of their own. We applaud you for your support,” said Siliniu Lina Chang.