Dialogue among peace messengers on this particular topic started from Monrovia, through Brussels; while in transit to the United States and New York at the 59th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) organized as part of activities to commemorate the International Women’s Day 2015.
The dialogue concluded on the notion that achieving Ebola free status at the time we did, will never be realized without women’s meaningful involvement and active participation.
We dialogued also that besides being the first woman to become democratically elected President in Africa; our President would add to her quiver another first. She is the first woman and seating President to successfully provide leadership in the fight against Ebola Virus Disease.
Right from the onset of EVD, women as individuals and groups were pivotal in providing health care and psycho-social support to efforts directed at the prevention and control of Ebola.
In Monrovia and the sectors, women formed pressure groups to solicit Government rapid action. We recall the religious role played by women from Crusaders for Peace through fasting and prayers for divine intervention and for the involvement of International community. Women were involved in the mobilization of others to action.
The participation of women in the fight against Ebola took the form of Community Education Outreach Programme through the use of public address system, house to house education programme and distribution of Information, Education and Communication materials. Multi-media campaigns were organized and conducted by women groups across the country.
To ensure that hygienic materials reach the general population, women were involved in buying and selling hand sanitizers to others as well as providing support to first responders and those working on the burial team.
More women died from Ebola and through their traditional roles as care givers take over the responsibilities of the home following the death of their partners. Female survivors suffer the burden of social stigmatization more than the men.
Inspite of the major roles played by women, key challenges remain. Women groups are often perceived to have inadequate skills to develop programmes for Ebola orphans; insufficient funds to deliver on post Ebola programmes on stigmatization and the lack of absorptive capacity by some groups to utilize funds, write their reports and tell their stories. There is urgent need for capacity building programme for women’s group and research.
To change current mindset on the challenges of involving women in the fight of any epidemic requires a mind shift. The integration of women in key peace and development programmes can take various forms and at Messengers of Peace Liberia- we begin with your support to the
“Ebola Educates” Campaign in kind through your stories or with your generous cash donation.
We take this opportunity to call on everyone, every group, every organization and every Country to assist us as we rebuild confidence in the health systems and re-establish trust as well as create a system for rapid response to future outbreak.
Until next week, when we come to you with another article on: “Ebola Educates: The impact of Ebola Outbreak on the Liberian Child -”, Peace First, Peace above all else, May Peace prevail on earth.