Amiotonu ma le Amiotonu Soifua Maloloina (Health Equity) provides people accessibility to health care that they require to reach their full health potential. In American Samoa the pathway to receive care is difficult due to exclusion, or disadvantages created by legislative policies, health policies, and group think debilitating the promotion of healthy communities. The American Samoa Alliance against Domestic & Sexual Violence, the U.S. Territory Sexual Assault Coalition mission is to empower individuals and communities in American Samoa through collaboration, promoting resiliency, and strengthening capacity to eliminate domestic & sexual violence. This project will help us to unpack how we hold discussions to promote equity, when our cultural systems support the unbalanced representation of many making equity difficult to achieve.
Samoa islands are homogenous communities, as 91.6% of population in American Samoa are native Samoan (U.S. Census 2010). Samoans are entrenched in the Fa’aSamoa (Samoan Way). The Fa’amatai system, a key socio-political system of governance ensures the welfare of the family and wellbeing of the extended family, and protection of family property. Most Matai’s (Chiefs) are men. Currently, the territorial legislatures consist of all men. There are no women Senators or House Representatives, coupled with the fact women sexual violence is a major public health and social problem in the Samoan islands. Hegemonic masculinity has grave impact on society and rape, as it harms social equality and human development. Power distribution and social determinants are root causes of health inequities. The Alliance proposes to assess our organizational ability to advance primary prevention regarding rape. This will require difficult discussions, as we unpack or identify the barrier to growing equity and inclusion in our community. We are dedicated to taking action-oriented steps to create spaces that will allow us to discuss, identify action plans, and commit to making changes.
This will be done by using pacific ways, or “Talanoa” (Talk) Sessions with Alliance staff, and vaega o paaga (community partners), either individually, or within a group setting. Discussions will focus on power distribution, historical roots of unequal power, in the Fa’aSamoa, and Fa’amatai systems, cultural systems, that promote health inequities in Samoan communities. We will assess the Alliance’s ability to become a diverse team. Evaluating our cultural perspectives, and how we are contributing to working with different identities and growth.