For the first-time women from Savaii have taken part District Development Committees and Women’s Advisory Committees


Twenty-eight women from various district development and women’s advisory committees are participating this week in the training for aspiring female directors.

The majority of them are from Savaii – 20 in total – making it the first-time women from Savaii have taken part in the programme, specific women from District Development Committees and Women’s Advisory Committees. Amongst them is one male advocate.

The training is part of a collaboration between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women and the Samoa Institute of Directors (SIOD), under the Women in Leadership in Samoa (WILS) Project.

The project has provided professional training since 2018 for aspiring women directors to equip them with the required knowledge and skills on directorship, and to empower aspiring women applicants to complete the required application form for board directors’ posts.

“This seminar was very useful for me in terms of understanding the roles and responsibilities of being a board director as well as a member of the Women’s Advisory Committee.

Also, understanding the requirements and criteria for the Application Process was very important for me who is a first timer on this type of program to inform my decision to enrol in the 3 day programme and I am more than confident now to apply in the next call as well as carrying out my duty in the Committee as my way of serving my community”, said Ianeta Masoe, Asau, Programme Participants.

Women’s representation on private and public companies and statutory boards have remained marginal since SIOD was established in 2005. Members of government company/statutory boards were directly appointed by the government. Women’s representation was low in most boards.

Out of registered 141 members of the Institute representing, both the public and private sectors, 31 of them are women or 21% of total board directors (SIoD 2007 Annual Report).

The majority of women were government officials with about 10 of the 31 women board members from the community and private sector.

The statistics for women’s representation on public and private boards has progressed moderately, from 24% in 2019 to 33% in 2023 representation overall in public organisations1.

Seven months ago, the Minister of Public Enterprises, Leatinu’u Wayne So’oialo urged the programme to support district and village development. This week, the programme is doing just that, by building the capacities of the current intake, who are mainly from Savaii.

“This is cause for celebration noting the inclusivity of women from both rural and urban areas, ensuring that everyone is included, and that women who are often seen as marginalised, now have the opportunity to be trained in this crucial area of leadership.

“Your experience and insight will enable policymakers to target resources, design policies and deliver projects more effectively to where they have the greatest impact, thus helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals along the way,” said Jorn Sorensen, UNDP Resident Representative.

The different sessions for the three-day programme vary from presentations from the CEO of the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, Dr Mema Motusaga on the expectations of District Development Committee and MWCSD, Strategic Roles of Committees by Reverend Siaosi Salesulu, Governance and Law by Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu, Understanding Financial Reports and Financial Planning by Tina Ula Saili, as well as Working Together for Results by Matautia Rula Levi in her capacity as the Deputy Chairperson for the Samoa Institute of Directors Board.

These capacity building programmes by the SIOD help increase the understanding of aspiring women directors on requirements for corporate governance and management of organisations as well as the roles and responsibilities of a director.

At the successful completion of the training, the hope is for all participants to consider applying for directorship positions in various government boards, and the private sector in order to surpass the current 33% representation of women as a step forward into advancing gender equality in Samoa.