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VILLAGE GOVERNMENT & COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANISATIONS IN SAMOA To what extent do women participate?

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Presentation on theme: "VILLAGE GOVERNMENT & COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANISATIONS IN SAMOA To what extent do women participate?"— Presentation transcript:

1 VILLAGE GOVERNMENT & COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANISATIONS IN SAMOA To what extent do women participate?

2 Samoa, a paradox? × Samoa ranks 131, near the bottom on the world scale of 139 countries for representation of women in parliament. × Political participation of women is low (2/49 members of Parliament) The gap between women and men in middle and senior management jobs in the public sector is narrowing Gender equity is almost achieved in formal employment and private enterprise Gender equity has been achieved in education

3 Women in Samoa’s Parliament since 1961 Source: Soo (2012).

4 Samoa, a paradox? × Samoa ranks 131, near the bottom on the world scale of 139 countries for representation of women in parliament. × Political participation of women is low (2/49 members of Parliament) The gap between women and men in middle and senior management jobs in the public sector is narrowing Gender equity is almost achieved in formal employment and private enterprise Gender equity has been achieved in education

5 How to explain the paradox?  Samoa Local Government Research Project (SLGRP)  Designed by the Centre for Samoan Studies at the National University of Samoa; funded by ADRAS  We don’t know why women have more leadership roles in some villages than others.  H 0 : neo-traditional village government and mainstream churches strongly deter women from assuming leadership roles.  Nation-wide survey of leadership across villages (i.e. village councils, churches, schools, CBOs and other organizations)

6 Village Government  80% of the total female population live in rural areas  240 ‘traditional’ villages in Samoa with the following traditional governance structures:  One village council (fono) of matai (chiefs) who make decisions based on consensus  One village mayor (pulenuu)  Traditional associations of untitled men & daughters of the village  A traditional honorific salutation (faalupega)  Churches as ‘informal agents’ in village government

7 Number of villages by number of churches in traditional villages Source: SLGRP database.

8 Chiefs (matai)  Matai titles unique to the village they belong to.  Matai titles are the property of Samoan extended families; matai represent family interests  Matai are the village decision makers  Only matai can stand for Parliament  13,423 matai in traditional villages  Basic profile  Majority reside in the village; only 5.33% are female  ¼ have only received primary school education  Most over the age of 40

9 Percentage of village mayors (pulenuu) by sex Source: SLGRP database.

10 Percentage of chiefs (matai) by sex Source: SLGRP database.

11 Women chiefs (matai)  There is a lot of variance across villages with respect to women matai  34 villages do allow women to hold titles but do not allow them to participate in village council meetings  41 villages do not allow for the ritual bestowment of titles on women  Other variations: Some villages do not allow women to hold titles Some villages allow women to hold titles if they reside elsewhere Women who hold titles and whom live outside of the village can sit in the village council meeting

12 Percentage of women titleholders who attend village council meetings by choice Source: SLGRP database.

13 Women’s committees  Introduced by the colonial government (1920s)  Responsible for public health; restricted membership  Led by the wives of the senior chiefs & orators  Hierarchy determined & analogous to status of husbands relative to the village government  Of the 240 traditional villages  70% had one village-wide women’s committee  28% (or 66) had more than 1 women’s committee  2% (or 7) had inactive or multiple women’s committees

14 Women’s representative to Govt.  Similar role to village mayors (pulenuu); paid by the government  ‘Conduit’ between village & government departments, as well as civil society organisations  76% (or 182) villages have elected representatives  24% (or 58) do not*  Most representatives do not hold titles albeit titles are not mandatory

15 School committees  72% (or 173) villages have at least 1 primary school  7% (or16) villages have 2 primary schools  84% of school committee members are male  16% female*  62% of primary school principals are female  79% of deputy primary school principals are female*

16 Village based businesses and CBOs  34% of village businesses are owned by females (mostly shops)  66% of village businesses are owned by males*  46% of all CBO leaders are female*

17 Preliminary conclusions…  Political decisions are made in a highly patriarchal electoral environment  At the local level, women’s political representation (5%) is close to that at the national level (4%)  A small proportion of villages specifically exclude women from village councils (14%)  In most villages, if there are women matai there, they are discouraged from participation by informal conventions*  Despite ratification of CEDAW, the state has no power to determine or even influence the gender composition of village councils*

18 Looking ahead…  Phase II of the SLGRP – case studies of 30 villages  Encourage a public conversation about the political representation of women  Share findings:  public seminars & debates on the findings, including village councils and parliamentarians;  engage with the media;  share information with departments & the Law Reform Committee;  contribute to on-going deliberations on the legal powers of village government;  make a submission to Cabinet on our findings

19 For more information..  Visit the Centre for Samoan Studies at the National University of Samoa (NUS)  our research team: Dr. Malama Meleisea Dr. Penelope Schoeffel Dr. Ioana Chan Mow Semau Ausage Lauano Hobert Sasa Measina Meredith  Visit our new website: Faafetai. Thank you.


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