-Receives Certificate of Recognition

By Jerromie S. Walters

Women Empowerment for Self- Employment (WE4SELF), a Liberian Non-Governmental Organization that focuses on women issues in the context of social change- was recently awarded a “Certificate of Recognition” by the United Nations (UN) in Liberia, for its outstanding commitment towards women’s economic empowerment in Liberia. The commendation comes as a testament to the organization’s tireless efforts in uplifting women and fostering gender equality in the country.

We4Self, has been at the forefront of empowering women in Liberia by providing them with access to economic opportunities, skills training, and financial support. The NGO’s holistic approach focuses on enhancing women’s economic independence, promoting entrepreneurship, and supporting sustainable livelihoods. The UN’s recognition of We4Self’s achievements took place at the One UN House in Sinkor, Wednesday, December 6, 2023, in commemoration of the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, and as part of the observance of the 16Days of Activism. 

We4Self was honored along with 28 other local NGOs that are committed to women related activities. For them (We4Self), their dedication can be visibly seen through their countless programs that have made a significant impact on the lives of many women in Liberia. Through its microfinance initiatives, the organization has empowered women to start their own businesses, providing them with the necessary capital and training to succeed. Additionally, We4Self has facilitated access to vocational training, enabling women to acquire valuable skills and secure employment opportunities.

The recognition by the United Nations (UN) appears to concur with women’s rights defenders other Liberians, considering the institution’s (We4Self). Delivering the United Nations (UN) Secretary General’s message on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women, UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Christine Umutoni, characterized violence against women as a horrific violation of human rights, a public health crisis, and a major obstacle to sustainable development. Quoting the UN Secretary General, she says it is persistent, widespread – and worsening, especially from sexual harassment and abuse to femicide and it takes many forms. “But all are rooted in structural injustice, cemented by millennia of patriarchy. We still live in a male-dominated culture that leaves women vulnerable by denying them equality in dignity and rights.”

Ms. Christine Umutoni: “We all pay the price: our societies are less peaceful, our economies less prosperous, our world less just. But a different world is possible. This year’s theme of the UNiTE campaign – “Invest to Prevent Violence against Women & Girls” – calls on all of us to take action. Support legislation and comprehensive policies that strengthen the protection of women’s rights across the board. Ramp up investments in prevention and support to women’s rights organization. Listen to survivors and end impunity for perpetrators everywhere. Stand with women activists and promote women’s leadership at every stage of decision-making. Together, let us stand up and speak out. Let’s build a world that refuses to tolerate violence against women anywhere, in any form, once and for all.”

In her own words, Ms. Christine Umutoni, emphasized that the 16 Days of Activism campaign which runs from the 25th ofNovember to the 10h of December every year, reminds that gender-based violence is a serious violation of human rights, as reports have also shown that women and girls are highly and differently affected by gender-based violence. The UN Resident Coordinator explained that violence against women and girls is also a serious problem In Liberia, as she referenced the Intimate partner violence in the country.

However- she says the UN alone cannot achieve this ambitious role, as she states that Women’s rights human rights defenders are one category of the multiple partners in the cause. Ms. Umutoni says they are essential partner in tackling gender-based violence and driving progress toward a more equitable and violence-free world for women and girls. “The UN acknowledges that being a human rights defender is a difficult task. The demanding work expected from defenders, including providing life-saving services to survivors of gender- based violence and driving policy change in ending violence against women and girls, is often underfunded.”

As a validation of how well they deserve the UN’s recognition, one of the success stories attributed to We4Self is the entrepreneurship training program. Through We4Self’s support, women have acquired technical education and significant empowerment. Interestingly, We4Self’s commitment towards women’s economic empowerment extends beyond individual success stories. The NGO actively engages with local communities, advocating for women’s rights and challenging societal norms that hinder gender equality.

With the recognition- the NGO has recommitted itself to asserting more efforts in its endeavor. Unarguably, as Liberia strives to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), We4Self’s efforts align perfectly with the UN’s agenda of promoting gender equality and empowering women. Through collaboration between the government, civil society, and international organizations, it is hoped that more initiatives like We4Self will emerge, fostering a brighter and more inclusive future for women in Liberia.

We4self is a local and nongovernmental organization established to promote women economic empowerment. The NGO is engaged into women’s economic empowerment through loan methodology and income generating activities and defending women’s human rights. Currently- the We4Self has different projects that are being implemented across Liberia. 

With support from Kvinna till Kvinna, they are training women in VSLA and Soap in Sinoe County.  With support from Action Against Hunger they are also implementing the project- Multi Sectoral Project, aimed at improving the nutritional status of children in todee rural Monteserrado. Also with support from Plan International We4Self is implementing the Girls and Young Women take Action for Peace in Monterssado and Bong County, under the spotlight Initiative, with support from UN Women. This is being implementing in Bong, Lofa and Monteserrado respectively.