Press Release: First Woman Prime Minister for Samoa Marks Progress Towards Gender Equality

Date: Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Strengthening Gender Focus
Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, Samoa’s first woman prime minister. Photo: UN Women/Sarika Chand

Apia, Samoa - The appointment of Samoa’s first woman prime minister is a historic moment, not just for the country, but for the Pacific, signifying progress towards gender equality for the region.

UN Women offers warm congratulations to Fiame Naomi Mata'afa on her assumption of the position of Prime Minister of Samoa and on becoming Samoa's first woman Prime Minister.

Women’s equal participation and leadership in political and public life are essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Women’s equal representation in political life and decision making is fundamental to progressing gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Studies show higher numbers of women in parliament generally contribute to stronger attention to not only women's issues but to social development and equal societies. Women's political participation is a fundamental prerequisite for genuine democracy as it facilitates women's direct engagement in public decision-making and is a means of ensuring better accountability to approximately half of a nation’s population of women and girls.

The Pacific region has the world’s lowest levels of women in parliament (7.3% as of March 2018). The current appointment exemplifies how progress is being made following the first woman elected as leader of a Pacific Island country when former President Hilda Heine was sworn into office in Marshall Islands in 2016. In March of the same year, Fiame was appointed Deputy Prime Minister in Samoa following elections.

UN Women supports governments to realize their gender equality commitments in leadership and decision making. In Samoa, UN Women together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) supports women’s empowerment through training and social norm change through the Women in Leadership in Samoa (WILS) project, generously supported by the Australian Government and jointly implemented with the Government of Samoa.

UN Women looks forward to working with Prime Minister Fiame across the broad range of gender equality issues which concern Samoa, the Pacific region, and the world at large and acknowledges the progress made by outgoing Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and his team in progressing gender equality and women’s empowerment in Samoa.