The chairperson of the Women’s Legislative Caucus, Jewel Howard Taylor, has emphasized on agriculture as a key issue to rural women‘s empowerment in the country.
Senator Taylor challenged rural women to revisit their farms and actively engage in food production to add more value to Liberia’s agriculture sector.
She made the call yesterday during a program marking the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection three-day National Rural Women’s Conference in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
The National Rural Women‘s conference was aimed at accelerating progress towards the economic empowerment of rural women across the country.
She urged the rural women of the fifteen counties to work tirelessly on their farms to compete with their counterparts in other countries.
“We the women must work hard in making sure we have more food in our country than for us to be in our neighboring countries (buying) food that our soil can grow.
“The farm work is important because if we had all the good food in our country, Ebola would not have come to Liberia. But it was a single woman who went to buy pepper and bitter balls from our neighboring country that brought the outbreak of Ebola here,” Senator Taylor explained.
She called on women to add politics to their empowerment as they seek to strengthen their economic skills.
She disclosed that it would be a disappointment to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf after 2017 if women’s participation in politics decreases. She encouraged women to unite so that much of the gains achieved can be sustained.
“It is a serious problem that women’s participation in the country has reduced and this is a problem that can be dealt with now if women support each other,” she said.
For her part, Gender Minister, Julia Duncan Cassell encouraged rural women to participate in the ongoing constitution review so that their voices can be heard.
She urged them to consider the conference as a time for reflection on activities of past years and focus on what women have done, achieved and want in the future.
FAO’s Country Director Marc Abdala reaffirmed his organization’s support to rural women’s projects and economic development in the counties.
Mr. Abdala said the Joint Programme on Rural Women Economic Empowerment (JP RWEE) is a platform that brings women together to work along with their counterparts for their economic empowerment.
Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations in Liberia, the World Food Program Representative Adama Diop Faye said the empowerment of women, through economic independence is critical to the eradication of poverty, adding that rural women are central to developing successful economies and stable societies.
“Truly, by focusing on the needs and potentials of women entrepreneurs, we can maximize their contributions to the national growth,” Mrs. Faye said.
Deputy Minister for Gender Children and Social Protection, Madam Sieane Abdul-Baki indicated that Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy and Agenda for Transformation emphasizes the vital role that revitalizing the rural economy will play in poverty reduction and highlights the role of rural women in the process.
“Following the recognition of these efforts the Ministry of Gender established a National Rural Women’s Program to ensure that all rural women are given the chance to partake in and benefit from new projects,” she added.