By Titus B. S Barbu, Intern
At least 20 disadvantaged young women have obtained certificates following three months of intensive training in Monrovia. The training was conducted by the Girls for Change (GFC), a nonprofit organization in partnership with Oxfam and was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Demark.
GFC was established in 2013 as a community-based organization with the intent of providing training for disadvantaged girls for empowerment.
The three-month training highlighted bad gender norms, as well as sexual and gender-based issues confronting women and girls, and promoting advocacy for the prevention of such societal challenges. Activities covered during the training included leadership, advocacy and life skills. The life skills component involved soap making, baking among other things.
At the closing event on December 19, the Executive Director of GFC, Ora Barcklay Keller, said the program is conducted in five different communities, namely: Marshall, Duazon, Duport Road, Thinker’s Village, Slipway and Omega communities.
She recalled that in 2018 the GFC, in partnership with the Paramount Young Women Initiative (PAYOWI) jointly implemented a two-month intensive intervention under the same Oxfam-Danida strategic partnership agreement, which she said targeted Montserrado and Margibi Counties.
According to her, the program has over the years reached out to one thousand five hundred fifty-seven (1557) persons, of which youth between the ages of 16-25 account for 768, while adults age 25 and above account for 789.
She said this year GFC in collaboration with the same organization, with funding from the MOF of Demark (Danida) signed a memorandum of understanding to implement a project, titled: “Advocacy and Influencing for Socio-economic Rights and Justice for Youth and Women”. The project, according to her, is in 5 communities in Montserrado and Margibi counties.
“The program we had with Oxfam benefited at least 1000 young men and women, of which we had 415 males while and 620 females,” she added.
Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA) Country representative for Liberia, Massa Crayton, praised the GFC for thoughtfully organizing the program and also Oxfam Liberia for supporting it.
“The project asserts reinforcement of all kinds of gender justices, but the matter here is to ensure that there is justice when it comes to both genders. For the purpose of the program, I go with the females because they are the most disadvantaged of the two genders,” Madam Crayton noted.
Madam Crayton also expressed thanks to the graduates and promised to work with GFC for the expansion of the program to other communities. She also urged the young women to keep the certificates they obtained as well as ensure the implementation of what they have learned.
Two of the graduates, Salamatu Sesay and Beatrice Boimah, expressed gratitude to the management of GFC for helping them regain their hope which, they said, was lost over the years. “This training has made us regain hope as women in the Liberian society,” Salamatu said.
Salamatu, who graduated from the gender justice club program, told the gathering that the Oxfam family, in partnership with GFC, has opened up her mind when it comes to the Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) that exists in society. “I have understood today how important it is for a woman to be educated,” she said.
Beatrice Boimah: “We learned baking, soap making, business management, [and about] domestic violence, early marriage and rape cases; so I feel proud of myself to be counted among women of substance in Liberia and now I know the importance and power of education.”
Meanwhile, GFC at the end of the training presented start-up packages to the graduates. The packages, according to the GFC’s management, was intended to empower the young women, as well as ensure that they continue their various projects and businesses.