SAITITOA ALEIPATA, Samoa - Lagi Pula, 56, says that performing arts have always been a traditional platform for sharing messages and lessons that drive social change.
“Performing arts are exhilarating because they allow us to express our insights, our natural creativity, and our knowledge of and commitment to addressing issues through song and dance,” she said.
Satitoa, on the east coast of Upolu, is home to more than 500 people and is one of eight villages working with the Samoa Victim Support Group, a Spotlight Initiative-supported organization that provides counselling and shelter to women and children experiencing violence. The ‘My Village, My Pride’ advocacy campaign aims to mobilize creative sectors and traditional institutions to work on ending domestic violence and intimate partner violence in Samoa.
On the last weekend in July, Satitoa hosted a celebratory song and dance event to demonstrate the village's commitment to ending gender-based violence.
It was a full house, attended by church leaders, traditional leaders, women of all ages, youth and children. The audience enjoyed the contemporary and traditional song and dance - each spreading the message that every woman should be respected, safe, empowered and protected from all forms of violence.
Cultural traditional arts provide a community-oriented way to discuss sensitive issues such as gender-based violence and reinforce key messages. This includes the fact that violence against women and girls is a widespread, persistent and devastating reality and that it is the responsibility of the whole community to stop it. The campaign encourages ‘new thinking’ by calling on traditional Samoan values to prevent domestic and intimate partner violence, and by asking every member of the community to stand with survivors of violence.
The Satitoa event programme also included a debate on the topic 'Women are the lifeline of the family' and a women's and youth performing arts competition.
The Spotlight Initiative-Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) Programme on mobilizing creative sectors and traditional institutions to end domestic and intimate partner violence is led by UNESCO with the support of the Resident Coordinator's Office, UN Women and UNDP.
The SVSG is one of the implementing partners working with the UN under the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative global programme to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. The SVSG is a non-governmental organisation with a vision that all victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse are well-supported, safe and in control of restoring their lives.