At Apia Park today teams took to the field for the Samoa Rugby Sevens Tournament on the eve of 16 Days of Activism, they are playing to win and to galvanise action to eliminate violence against women and girls.
Samoa Rugby Union’s Ending Violence Against Women (EVAW) Blue Sky Seven’s Tournament is in its third year and has been growing since its inception. 2017 will see the largest number of Women’s Teams, 7 in total, competing for championship glory. Combined with 14 Men’s team, will make this the most well attended EVAW themed tournament to date.
“We must all work together to end violence against women and girls,” said UN Women Country Programme Coordinator Papali’i Mele Maualaivao, “because everyone has the right to live their life free from violence.”
“The Sevens Tournament is a perfect platform to speak out against violence against women and girls given rugby’s popularity in Samoa and across the Pacific region,” she continued.
Match Officials wore orange highlighting the EVAW message
To encourage more equal participation of women and girls in rugby, Oceania Rugby has partnered with UN Women to raise the number of women’s teams represented in regional competitions as well as take steps to increase more women in managerial roles.
"Part of ending violence against girls and women involves breaking down rigid gender roles and stereotypes. Creating more opportunities for women to safely take part in a high-status Pacific Island activity helps. " Bruce Cook, Rugby Services Manager Oceania, World Rugby.
Samoa Rugby Union has developed its relationship with UN Women and Oceania Rugby over the last three years, dedicating high profile matches to EVAW as well as increasing support for women’s teams to participate in the national EVAW tournament. This partnership connects with the World Rugby plan to accelerate the global development of women in rugby by increasing strategic and sustainable investment partners and groups sustainable participation opportunities.
“SRU is well aware of the great potential female rugby players have to offer the sport and our national team. As the sport is accelerating the global development of women in the game, Samoa recognizes that ending violence against women is key to reaching our goals as a country and as a sport.” Said Avii Faalupega .
The tournament this Friday will be a chance for Samoan Rugby players to not only compete for national recognition but promote women in sports in Samoa and address a social problem that has affected all citizens of the small island nation.