IRC Research Findings Highlights Successes, Challenges of Women-led Organizations

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) and its implementing partners, the Coalition of Women Against Gender Based Violence in Liberia (COWAGIL), Women Solidarity Inc. (WOSI), and Rural Women & Girls Promoters (RWGP), have released findings from its research on Feminist Process Evaluation highlighting successes, challenges and gaps faced by Liberian women-led organizations. 

The findings were released recently at a local resort in Monrovia, and the deliberation was done in the presence of both local and international partners and government officials. The research on the Feminist Process Evaluation is funded by Irish Aid under the project titled, “Raising Community Voices.”

In the findings, the groups came to realize from the research that strong technical skills in project management, finance, and fundraising are essential for local organizations to achieve sustainability, but they remain critical weaknesses for many organizations.

“Most WLOs (women-led organizations) face challenges with adequate monitoring and evaluation (M&E), which limits their ability to use data to inform their programs and meet donor expectations. Multiple WLOs were frustrated by the lack of feedback, feasible criteria, and respect they received from donors and INGOs concerning proposals that were rejected and overall proposal processes. There is a need to strengthen the two-way communication chain,” the research indicated. 

The research was conducted with specific objectives to better understand the successes, challenges, and gaps faced by Liberian WLOs in sustaining quality women and girls’ protection, response, and empowerment programs.  At the program, organizations that were involved in the study design and implementation shared their experiences and views on why the feminist-centered approach is critical to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) programming in Liberia.  

The session highlighted the need for reliable data for decision-making that will influence policy-change, while encouraging WLOs/Community Based Organizations to value qualitative evaluations and participatory data process that captures live experiences to inform future work. 

Moreover, it was clearly indicated that policymakers/donors and other international organizations that partner with local WLOs must use these findings to reflect and adjust their current strategies for engaging with WLOs/CBOs. 

IRC Country Director, Madam Faith Akovi Cooper, extended her gratitude to the participants and said that it is important to build on the existing structure in the fight against Gender-based violence. Madam Cooper said, “There should be collective actions that involve the community and CBOs as the frontliners in complementing government efforts in the struggle for gender equality.” 

In a Special remark from the government of Ireland, Madam Kate O’Donnell, Charge’ d’Affaires, emphasized that the people of Ireland are conscious about GBV and, as such, Ireland is working on gender equality efforts that focus on community involvement.  She highlighted three critical areas in the fight against violence, namely: coordination, localization and sustainability.

The Chairperson of the National Civil Society Council, Madam Loretta A. Pope-Kai was delighted by the research findings and pledged her support to collaborate with the IRC to disseminate the information more broadly across the country. She further encouraged WLOs to tap into the Council’s strength as a coordinating body. 

The Deputy Minister for Gender at the MOGCSP, Madam Alice Johnson-Howard, said “IRC is a long-time traditional partner in the fight to end GBV in Liberia.  She lauded IRC for consistently designing innovative programs and strategies focused on GBV, while promoting women’s empowerment.  She commended the IRC for its male engagement strategy, which gave birth to the “He for She movement.”

The Director of the Family Health Division, Madam Bentoe Tehoungue, also encouraged WLOs to “Be on the table and not on the menu for the fight against GBV.”

She said as frontliners, WLOs need to discuss context-based strategies that will mitigate gaps related to the prevention and response to GBV. Madams Margaret J. Sleyon, Executive Director of COWAGIL, Meilakeh Y. Suah Menworleh, Executive Director of Rural Women and Girls Promoters and Caroline Armah, Executive Officer of Women Solidarity Inc. (WOSI), were all part of the deliberation.

Meanwhile, the IRC has reaffirmed its commitment to the fight against GBV in Liberia and shared that they will be working through partners and various stakeholders over the next several months to disseminate the research findings more broadly across Liberia while seeking to build on the gains achieved in GBV prevention and response to date. The research has been made possible with support from the Government of Ireland through Irish Aid.