-World Bank Liberia Country Manager says

By Jerromie S. Walters

As Liberia continues the observance of the 16Days of Activism, World Bank Liberia Country Manager Georgia Wallen, says wide range of challenges continue to deprive many women in the West African state, something she believes has led to the suppression of the healthy and prosperous future that they deserve. 

At an event recently in Paynesville, Madam Georgia Wallen told her audience that Liberian women have been an inspiration to countless people around the world, but a lot more needs to be done, if women and girls are to have a safe space.

“The theme of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence this year is timely and meaningful: investing in prevent violence against women and girls. The World Bank is deepening our efforts to scale up the impact of our investments and activities to maximize opportunity for women.”

As an assurance of this, she referenced , “We are investing in maternal and child health, including the ongoing construction of the new redemption hospital. Why? Because women’s health matters. We are investing in education. Including at the secondary school level, with special efforts to reach young girls and young women in this critical and formative phase of their lives. We are boosting systems for addressing grievances, affirming that all girls should have a safe environment in which to learn and thrive. Why? Because women’s education matters.”

She adds, “We are supporting small holder farmers and small entrepreneurs, including women-owned -businesses. Why? Because the talent and entrepreneurial drive of women matters of this economy. And we are working closely with the government of Liberia and partners on a new flagship Women Empowerment Project that aims to improve social and livelihood services for women and girls in targeted communities; foster positive social norms; and strengthen the government’s capacity to advance women and girls’ empowerment. Why? Because women empowerment matters.”

Meanwhile, she encouraged, “I want to leave you with a few words about what motivates me and our excellent team at the World Bank (including many outstanding Liberian women in our ranks!). Everything we do is driven by collective commitment to our mission: to end poverty and promote shared prosperity on a livable planet. Women are at the heart of realizing this mission. The vision, leadership, tenacity and hard work of Liberia’s women are the bridge between today’s Liberia and the increasingly inclusive and prosperous Liberia of the future. Congratulations on all you’ve done, and all that is to come!”

Thank you for the opportunity to join you today to celebrate Liberian women and reaffirm the World Bank’s strong focus on empowering women here and everywhere. Thanks also to the organizers of this inspiring event.”

Recently, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Leymah Gbowee, characterized the fight around the protection of women’s rights as a political decoration for many governments, However, she’s hoping that there will be a time when it will be 16 days of  sharping some of the gains that the world has made, instead of consistently talking about the challenges that we continue to face.

She told the Voice of America (VOA), “If I may say, it is a political decoration for many governments, but for the women who are impacted by these crisis all over, it is life ensuring, and what they live for so on our continent you see more and more women are advocating, they are raising the issues, they are not stopping.” 

Madam Gbowee continued- “Even where there’s no fund to do this work, it’s like a daily thing because that’s the only thing they can do to safeguard themselves and the girls that will come after them. It’s still a huge issue for us as women in the continent, and I’m hopeful that one day, it will not just be the political gains but action will follow some of the political talks.”

She acknowledged that international bodies, including the UN, AU, ECOWAS, have the required written policies to combat all forms of violence and discrimination against women, but as it is- she recommends the need for those policy papers and documents to be turned into what she termed as “Actionable agenda”. 

“I think what is important now is for us to take all of those policy documents and turned them into actionable agenda, followed by funding and followed by a measure that is no longer about impunity, so we need to take it from the paper.” She adds- It’s very good for us to celebrate 16Days of Activism, but I dream of a day that 16Days of activism will be 16 days sharping some of the gains that we have made instead of consistently talking about the challenges that we continue to face.”