Village-based women urged to seek Samoan chiefly titles

The number of women taking up Samoan chiefly titles is on the rise but a Samoan academic is urging for more village-based women to put themselves forward.

AUT Professor of Pacific Studies, Tagaloatele Peggy Dunlop said only a decade ago females made up five percent of matai, or chiefs, based in Samoa. But she said that figure had grown to 11 percent, and of those, just over half were village-based.

She said some villages still prohibited women entering the fa'amatai chiefly system, but it was crucial for a wider representation, especially on issues like domestic violence.

"When you look at how justice or order or protection is maintained in Samoa the majority of the villagers are under the authority and protection of the faamatai.

"And if there are only 5.5 percent of those being female then you can see it can be a wee bit skewed there with knowledge of issues and experience and women are very much a minority group in the village faamatai or village council systems."

Tagaloatele spoke at a recent Samoan Transnational Fa'amatai Symposium in Auckland on the topic of 'Female Matai: To be or not to be' and was a commissioner for Samoa's national inquiry into domestic violence.



Photo: AFP