The Officer-In-Charge (OIC) and Deputy Country Representative of United Nations (UN) Women, Peterson Magoola, has re-echoed the need to bridge the widening disparities between the males and their female counterparts in the country.
Mr. Magoola said, in Liberia as in many other places, gender inequality and women marginalization continue to be entrenched in traditional and religious perceptions portraying women as the weaker gender.
The UN Women OIC made these remarks on Monday June 17, when his organization donated a BMW jeep to the Ministry of Gender and Development (MoGD) to be used by the coordinator of the Women Economic Empowerment Project (WEEP).
Mr. Magoola noted that there is high socio-cultural tolerance for female subordination and male superiority, which enhances disparities in almost every African setting with Liberia not an exception.
“These socio-cultural attitudes, sustained and maintained by cultural systems of socialization are transferred and perpetuated through families, schools, communities, and work places, and limit women participations in leadership and decision making at all levels of society,” he said.
The UN family, including UN Women, continues to play pivotal roles in supporting government through the MoGD, in addressing the status of women and girls at national and local levels.
This, Mr. Magoola said, has been done through a number of targeted programs such as women role in peacebuilding through the UN Peace Building Fund, focusing on women safety.
He noted, “Today with the funding from the UN Peacebuilding Support Office, we gather here to demonstrate our continued commitment to supporting government’s efforts in addressing the plight of over four thousand vulnerable women and girls by assigning to the Gender Ministry this vehicle, primarily to be used in the field for the implementation of the Women Community Based Peacebuilding and Economic Empowerment Projects.”
“This vehicle will be routinely visiting 23 rural communities where the ministry and UN Women are working. This form of transport will help the project team to increase community security and peace by enhancing access and leadership capacities of rural women as key stakeholders in generating greater demand for justice and improved accountability to women rights groups,” he said.
WEEP’s activities are aimed to reduce economic inequality and marginalization by increasing the economic security of at least 4,000 women and girls in conflict vulnerable communities in key concessional areas and border towns or villages.
The project, which is at its pilot stage, will be implemented in vulnerable communities in six of the 15 counties where the ministry and UN Women are jointly working.
The counties include Grand Bassa, Grand Gedeh, Gbarpolu, Sinoe, Grand Cape Mount and Bomi Counties.
These areas include communities where large concessions operate; areas with high numbers of vulnerable women, places of increase level of sexual exploitation and family violence as well as communities where access to land for women decreases and most women lack the requisite skills to benefit from the formal employment opportunities offered by the extractive industry.
The project Coordinator at the MoGD, Doris Saydee, said the ministry and UN Women received support from the UNPeacebuilding Fund for the implementation of the WEEP project.
Mrs. Saydee said given the risk of social tension due to economic inequality in concession areas, WEEP will increase women economic security through three channels; namely, improving their income earning potentials and control over financial resources, increase women traders’ sense of security and confidence in the security sector, and increasing the capacity of women to know and demand for their rights in the community management of natural resources, land and the environment.
She pointed out that the goal of the community based project is to increase community security and peace by enhancing the leadership capacity of rural women to effectively engage in peace building forums and community decision-making processes.
Gender and Development Minister Julia Duncan Cassell said the project is a pilot one that can be expanded once the first phase is carried out with good result.
She noted that land, peace and security are issues that concern women which the project intends to address.
Minister Cassell mandated the peace building office at the Ministry to work with UN Women for the success of the project.