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Story of Empowerment

Documentary in the making, Sisters of Samoa, is set to get a boost through philanthropic crowdfunding website, Boosted.

Story of Empowerment

It’s one of 12 projects that have qualified for Boosted, the official Arts Foundation’s crowdfunding website which was launched on March 21. The Arts Foundation is following the American model of crowdfunding, which over the past three years has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for creative projects worldwide by allowing individuals to pledge $5 or more to a project of their choice.

The documentary film directed by Ursula Williams will celebrate the incredible achievements of Women in Business Development Incorporation (WIBDI) women in Apia, Samoa.

Being part Samoan herself, Williams believes telling their story will help empower future generations. “It’s not that often we hear positive stories from the Pacific. It’s even more rare to hear positive stories that revolve around the achievements of women. Working in filmmaking and advertising has taught me that seeing yourself replicated in the media helps you to identify with a certain stereotype or group within your community. I feel it is important to tell stories that celebrate achievement within the Pacific culture so that the current and future generations can identify with positive influences shown within the media.”

WIBDI was founded in 1991 and the group’s decisions to encourage and help Samoan women with the means to earn incomes had a positive affect when the taro leaf blight hit Samoa in 1993, wiping out Samoa’s staple food and main export and causing extreme poverty in urban and rural areas.

“Generating these alternative systems has resulted in a strong link between economic development independence and political empowerment for women in the Pacific. Their approach is becoming more and more successful,” Williams says. 

In June last year [2012] Adimaimalaga Tafuna’i, known as Adi and one of the founders of WIBDI, was awarded the Vital Voices Global Leadership Award in front of 2,500 cheering people at the Kennedy Centre’s Opera House in Washington. Hillary Clinton, a co-founder of the grassroots women’s empowerment organisation Vital Voices, described Tafuna’i as a “visionary entrepreneur”.

Tafuna’i has not only worked for more than two decades to help thousands of Samoan women take control of their lives and earn incomes for their families, she also negotiated the contract on behalf of Samoan organic coconut growers with The Body Shop of London. Samoan coconut oil is now widely used in health and beauty products and sold in more than 50 countries.

Sisters of Samoa will tell Tafuna’I’s and other women’s stories. “Their story is one of empowerment, the ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and the strength that lies in sisterhood,” she says.

Her target on Boosted is to raise NZ$10,000 to fund travel and production costs of the film. To pledge or find out more about other inspiring arts projects in the making visit www.boosted.org.nz 

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