• Targets rural women in 8 counties in Liberia  

G. Bennie Bravo Johnson is the author of this story

Over the weekend, Kvinna till Kvinna, with support from the Swedish Interactional Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), officially launched the Promotion of Women’s Empowerment and Rights in Liberia (POWER) project, which is aimed at impacting women and young girls across the country.

Kvinna till Kvinna is a key partner in Liberia, supporting a diverse and inclusive women’s movement and women’s human rights actors that collectively push for the fulfilment of women’s rights in a peaceful Liberia.

The project is meant to enhance the fulfilment of women’s rights as well as participation in national decision-making beginning with its implementation in River Gee, Maryland, Grand Kru, Sinoe, Bong, Grand Bassa, Nimba and rural Montserrado, counties.

Mrs. Aisha Lai, head of office, Kvinna till Kvinna, gave an overview of the launched project at the Bella Cassa Hotel in Sinkor, Monrovia, explaining that the “Promotion of Women’s Empowerment and Rights (POWER)” is a three-year empowerment strategy for women and girls that runs from 2022 to 2025. According to her, the project was inspired by the preceding Kvinna until Kvinna program (Enhancing Women’s Rights-2016–2021), which was carried out with the help of its partners.

 She explained that the project is based on a need assessment that was carried out through dialogues, field visits, individualized support, and tailored analysis, as well as consultations on the organization’s global strategy and an external evaluation of the Liberia program, the results of which were released and validated in 2020.

She stated that the program aims to contribute to a stronger, more inclusive Liberian women’s rights movement by working more effectively, strategically, and sustainably to promote girls and women’s rights and empowerment, including the opportunity and capacity to participate qualitatively in decision-making at various levels and in different spaces, reduce GBV, improve access to SRHR services and information, and strengthen their economic empowerment.

She went on to say that the POWER initiative will be realized through the integration of a Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA). Institutional and capacity development of partner organizations, as well as advocacy and use of human rights instruments. The main expectation is that it will help Liberia’s women’s movement become more effective, resilient, and visible, as well as women’s meaningful political engagement at the local and national levels. According to her, the initiative will also help to improve gender-based incident protection, prevention, and response by establishing a link between sexual and reproductive health and rights and making a significant contribution to advancing women’s economic empowerment in project locations. 

The Minister of Gender Williametta Saydee Tarr disclosed that the Finance and Gender Ministries collaborated to make the 2022 budget gender-sensitive. She said they were able to secure $2 million for women’s empowerment after rural women requested that the president teach them how to “fish for themselves” rather than be fed during the president’s tour.

Minister Tarr repeated President Weah’s words on International Women’s Day about a proposed measure that would allow women to vote in the national Legislature at a 50% rate rather than the present 30%, and urged women to assist one another if they want to attain equal political involvement.

The Head of Political and Economic Governance of the Delegation of the European Union to Liberia, Jyrki TORN, said he was delighted about the partnership between Kvinna Till Kvinna and Sweden because both of them represent a success story of women’s rights.

Mr. TORN said there exist no 100 percent equality rights because the society was designed by men and calls on the Kvinna Till Kvinna to ensure that all resources for the program are used for changing the design.

He calls for empowering women in advocacy as Liberia prepares for the upcoming elections, stating “it starts by forcing political parties to adhere to 30 percent women’s participation.

Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Sweden, Johan Romare said he was elated to see civil society organizations and the gender ministry speaking with the same language.

“We are happy to invest some resources into this partnership where both the government of Liberia and civil society organizations can support women. We want to see real change,” Mr. Romare said.

The Country Representative of the United Nations Office on High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR), Uchenna Emelonye said organizations supporting women’s rights show that they are directly supporting human rights.

Mr. Emelonye said human rights cannot be achieved when the rights of the greater population of the citizenry is still lacking.

Meanwhile, Mr. Emelonye said there are more women at the Monrovia Central Prison that have finished their term of prison but are not released because they have not paid the monetary component that took them to prison.

Mr. Emelonye told the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection Mrs. Saydee-Tarr of his office’s commitment to addressing the issue.    

He further suggested that Madam Williametta Tarr, the Minister of Gender and Children Protection, visit the jail facilities, claiming that there are more female detainees than male convicts who have fulfilled their terms but are still incarcerated due to their inability to pay the prison fees. Gender Minister Williametta Saydee Tarr responded by assuring the UNHCR representative that she will work with the Ministry of Justice and other appropriate authorities to have the detainees added to the president’s

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