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Samoa makes bold statement winning coveted award in Mexico

Source: UNDP

Cancun, Mexico – The Samoa Spotlight Initiative team in winning the inaugural Leave No One Behind award at the Global Spotlight Symposium in Mexico last Sunday, made a bold statement – not only in their signature bright orange attire worn when they received the award – but also in its loud and proud commitment to leaving no one behind.

The colour orange is synonymous with the Spotlight Initiative’s advocacy efforts in Samoa. This was on full display when the Samoa delegation of four – led by the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, Dr. Mema Motusaga, and included Fagalima Tuatagaloa, Gabrielle Apelu and Gutu Faasau – danced and sang their way onto the stage to receive the coveted award.

“This award recognizes the force that is the Samoa Spotlight Initiative in all its totality, complete with our challenges and successes. We shall continue to endeavour in our approach. Tonight, we lift our partners, our national stakeholders, our champions, our women and girls, as the world acknowledges and celebrates our two years of trials and tribulations, which is the journey of the Samoa Spotlight Initiative,” said Fagalima Tuatagaloa, Co-Chair of the Civil Society National Reference Group, Samoa Spotlight Initiative.

The Leave No One Behind award recognizes the Spotlight Initiative team in Samoa’s commitment to the principle of leaving no one behind. The team works with the Civil Society National Reference Group (CSNRG) and Recipient United Nations Organisations (RUNOs) to ensure the inclusion of women and girls who are not well integrated into existing violence prevention efforts, meeting people in their own contexts and communities.

“This is a great recognition of the work that the United Nations have done with the Government of Samoa, civil society, churches and other community faith-based organizations, academia, village councils, women’s committees and activists,” said Dr. Simona Marinescu, the UN Resident Coordinator in Samoa.

Samoa Spotlight Initiative's delegation
Samoa Spotlight Initiative's delegation

Samoa Spotlight Initiative’s delegation to Cancun, Mexico joins their Pacific counterparts the day after the awards ceremony.

“The success of this programme has had multiple drivers, but a critical role has been played by the Civil Society National Reference Group, a mechanism of 10 CSO representatives whose role is to better engage civil society in the programme and monitor the relevance of the support provided by the RUNOs. Equally important has been taking a culture-sensitive approach, involving arts as forms of emotional expression, including traditional dancing and singing.”

The Spotlight Initiative in Samoa is implemented by five RUNOs, namely the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP), UN Women, UNESCO, UNICEF and UNFPA. The Resident Coordinator’s Office oversees the programme and is actively involved with its implementation.

“The award is an affirmation of ongoing, concerted efforts by the Spotlight Initiative team in Samoa to ensure that no one is left behind. While much work remains to be done in the fight to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in Samoa, we take heart from awards such as these, that we are indeed on the right track, and that the work we do is indeed reaching those who need it most,” said Jorn Sorensen, UNDP’s Resident Representative in Samoa.

Other contenders for the award included Honduras, Liberia, Tajikistan, and Zimbabwe. The awards ceremony rounded off the Global Spotlight Symposium, which attracted more than 150 participants.

The Spotlight Initiative is implemented in five regions and 26 country programmes around the world including Samoa. Spotlight is a global initiative of the United Nations which has received generous support from the European Union. Its aim is to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. It was launched in Samoa in March 2020. Since then, it has made a significant contribution to national efforts to rid Samoa of the scourge of violence against women and girls.