Home Institution

Washington and Lee University

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

Samoa: Pacific Communities and Social Change


Samoan women hold an integral and valued place within their families and communities. Despite this, Samoa continues to report some of the lowest representation of women in political office in the world. The newly instated Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing 10% of Parliamentary seats for women will bolster female political involvement in the upcoming 2016 elections. An investigation into the challenges that face women entering political leadership roles at the village and Parliamentary level will bring awareness to the struggles encountered by women and contribute to dismantling the barriers which stand against them. Fourteen female politicians and experts in the field were interviewed on the obstacles they believe exist for women entering these roles. Interviews and secondary research suggest the challenges for women entering politics far surpass the challenges for men who pursue the same roles. Cultural and circumstantial barriers limit women’s access to village support, traditional leadership knowledge, and mentorship, especially for women who lack political or familial connections. Much more needs to be done to address the cultural and tangible obstacles to women as political leaders. Respondents felt that a network of support from fellow women, especially politically active women who can serve as mentors, would be a positive first step in addressing the constraints they face.


Inequality and Stratification | Political Science | Politics and Social Change | Public Affairs | Women's Studies


Article Location