Quite recently both executives of UN Women and Oxfam had the opportunity to visit President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the legislature, women groups and young adolecent girls to support and speak out on behalf of women who want to see changes to maintaining Liberia’s peace and stability.
During their five day visit, which commenced on March 1, Ms. Phuzile Mlambo- Ngcuka, Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women and Ms. Winnifred Byanyima, Executive Director, Oxfam International, heard the pleas, suggestions and stories of why women should have more active roles in Liberia’s decision making.
“We are a joint delegation led by Ms. Byanyima,” stated Madam Mlambo-Ngcuka. The two of us are combining our efforts and organizations to meet, in our small way, some of the needs of the people in Liberia. In collaboration with Sierra Leone, the last five days we have had the opportunity to meet, visit and hear about the progress that is being made in the country as well as the challenges that are being faced by women and girls in particular.”
Madam Mlambo-Ngcuka, who was warmly welcomed with cultural gifts, lappas, food and songs of freedom wherever her panel visited, mentioned that her purpose in Liberia was to remind Liberia that it will always have UN Women’s support.
“Our visit here is really to lobby, encourage and to advocate for all of these problematic regulatory and policy initiatives that are outstanding,” she added.
Also Oxfam is working in partnership with UN Women, the Liberian and Sierra Leonean governments to ensure that a difference is made for the women who were affected by the Ebola virus disease (EVD) and water and sanitation problems.
“We must recognize that it was the women who were most affected during the Ebola crisis and it is still the women who continue to be the most affected by its aftermath. Now we are working with these women to reverse the trend. The women of Liberia and Sierra Leone must be able to not only re-build their livelihoods but have the power to build better, more viable and sustainable livelihoods,” stated Ms. Byanyima.
According to Madam Mlambo-Ngcuka, who was accommodated by Ms. Awa N’Diaye Seck, Country Representative of UN Women of Liberia and their communications Officer, Winston Daryoue, during their week-long visit, she recognized Liberia’s strength in battling Ebola.
“We’ve spent the five days appreciating the efforts that went into fighting Ebola and the resiliance of the people. We had the opprotuinty to engage with the President and thanked her for her leadership and the leadership of the UN system and the civil society, the ordinary people and individuals,” she added.
Furhermore, Madam Mlambo-Ngcuka said 2015 was a very important year for the United Nations because it ended with the implementation of sustainable development goals.
“In the last 15 years this country has been driving its own recovery, at the back of the fight that was mounted by women of Liberia. We also had the opportunity to meet the women from different parts of the country who are still active in the peace huts to renew our commitments to their work for peace and security. We want to take their efforts a step further to be about peace because there’s still work and the capacity to engage in economic development to ensure they benefit from the dividends of peace,” she said.
Meanwhile, Madam Mlambo-Ngcuka spoke on UN Women’s effort with Oxfam on the initiatives to address shortages of water and sanitation in Liberia and the improvement of infrastructure, like provision of new infrastructure.
“OXFAM is our lead partner between the two of us, but we’re obviously part of a broader and comprehensive team made up of government and the private sector run agencies that are working with our own focus. OXFAM and UN women are ensuring that there is a role for women in the provision and in the maintenance and repair of that infrastructure. Women as entrepreneurs, women as employees, as well as women as innovators and having them in many services,” she added.
“Our program is also focused on developing entrepreneurs, outside the water and sanitation field. We will be supporting the women who have been working with traders, in the market as well as cross border traders; many of them are women we worked with before the epidemic. We’re assisting them now to recover from their many losses they suffered during the epidemic, but we’re also looking for opportunities to work with the women in agriculture, in textile and in other sectors,” she said.