Samoa Takes a Stand Against Violence Towards Women
The Salvation Army in Samoa were given a grant, along with other NGOs in Samoa, from the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development to provide programmes and activities to promote ending violence against women and girls in the country.
The grant was a significant amount of money, and the programmes were run over a period of six months from the first of July to the end of December last year.
In previous years, the government would run a campaign for 16 days, but 2022 was the first time they have given a funding grant to NGOs to run initiatives for a longer period of time.
Regional Leader Captain Julie Turner felt honoured they were asked, as comparatively to other NGOs that have been around for some time The Salvation Army has only been operating in Samoa for five years.
‘There’s many, many people in Samoa who haven’t heard of The Salvation Army. To be recognised by the government was quite an important step for us’, she said.
The Salvation Army had six goals that they aimed to achieve during these six months.
These goals included addressing substance abuse as a trigger of violence against women and girls, creating behavioural change, building healthy relationships between men and women, and running youth workshops.
Another of their goals was to partner with a village, where leaders were chosen to attend a two-day workshop, to develop a community campaign.
‘It’s very exciting to see those people get fired up about this issue and actually be interested in pursuing change not only for themselves, but also for their village and for Samoa’, Julie said.
Some of the goals were addressed in the addictions programme they already run, particularly encouraging responsibility for actions caused by substance abuse.
The only goal that wasn’t completed was to deliver a positive parenting and lifestyle workshop, but that will be going ahead in early 2023.
The Salvation Army also used the funding to appear on The Breakfast Show, radio programmes, newspaper articles, and additionally ran a Facebook campaign to raise public awareness.
The government even organised a parade, which The Salvation Army and other NGOs participated in alongside thousands of people marching. Julie was amazed at the turnout for such a small country, all in support of ending violence against women and girls.
Violence against women and children has been an important issue in Samoa for some time, where the government has undertaken research and has been campaigning for many years.
The National Public Inquiry into Family Violence Consultations published a report about Family Violence in Samoa in 2017, which stated that ‘intimate partner violence’ was one of the most common forms of violence in families, with 86% of women being subjected to physical violence, 87% subject to verbal abuse and 87% experiencing threats of violence.
The Salvation Army Samoa is passionate about empowering women and ensuring they are living safely in their own communities:
‘We see it as an important issue for recognising the value of all people, and that women, girls, and children deserve a safe space and deserve to be safe in their homes and in their community’, said Julie.
Even though the six-month campaign is now over, The Salvation Army in Samoa will continue to educate on ending violence against women and girls in their drug and alcohol programme, and through any other opportunities that arise.
Words: Hope Burmeister