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Samoa, a pacific island nation with a population of less than 200,000, just elected their first female Deputy Prime Minister–the highest political office ever held by a woman in that country.


Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata'afa was sworn in on Friday, joining four other women who are members of parliament.

"I think it is significant given that not only Samoa but the Pacific has been trying to increase [women's] participation in public life and in politics," Mata'afa told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation after her victory. "So I think the role modelling is important for women who have aspirations for public life."


It's a result that came about after a 2013 constitutional amendment was passed requiring 10% of Samoa's 49 parliamentary seats to be occupied by women, an effort to empower Samoan women to take positions of political leadership, Radio New Zealand reports.

The United Nation's Women's body in the Pacific lauded the election results as a sign of improving gender equality:

Since the requirement for women representatives was enacted, the number of women running for office has dramatically increased–24 women were on the ballot this year, compared with just 8 in 2011.

Ali’imalemanu Alofa Tuuau, one of the five women who won a seat, told the Samoa Observer that women face significant challenges that she hopes to help address. “The main thing that I will be focusing on with this issue is to try and build women’s self confidence," she said.

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