50 Million Women Speak Project Launched in Liberia

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The COUNTRY TEAM: ‘50 Million African Women Speak (50MWS) Project’

– EU, UN Women, Sweden Pledge Support

Liberia has joined 11 West African countries to embrace the “50 Million African Women Speak (50MWS) Project”, a women’s economic empowerment initiative that is meant to improve the ability of women to grow and sustain their businesses.

The “50MWS” is a project that aims to empower women entrepreneurs by providing access to financial and non-financial information relevant to developing and growing a business.

The project was developed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in partnership with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the East African Community (EAC). It was conceived in 2017 in order to create a networking platform that would connect women entrepreneurs and encourage peer-to-peer learning and mentoring as well as information and knowledge sharing.

The platform, which will also be accessible on hand-held devices, including smartphones and tablets, will enable women to access business training, financial services, locally relevant business information, and mentors, among other services, to support the overall goal of enhanced financial inclusion of women, leading ultimately to increased economic activity in Africa.

Wednesday’s launch made the country the 12th in the region, after Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Guinea, Nigeria, Benin, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Cape Verde.

Gender, Children & Social Protection Minister Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr, on behalf of First Lady Clar M. Weah, officially launched the “50MWS” and underscored the commitment of the government to ensure the project’s overall goal is achieved.

Ambassador Tunde O. Ajisomo, the Special Representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia, said the “50MW” will address gender-related barriers such as: lower level of education and business training, weak poverty rights that deprive girls and women of collateral and tangible assets as well as legal and regulatory barriers.

Amb. Ajisomo said the project reinforces the ECOWAS Protocol and Framework on the promotion of equal rights for women and men for their sustainable development within the ECOWAS sub-region. Rep. Moima Briggs-Mensah of Bong County District #6 in the 54th Legislature and member of the Women Legislative Caucus, also pledged the Legislature’s support but urged that the process be real, truthful and holistic.

UN Women Country Representative Madam Marie Goreth Nizigama and Swedish Ambassador Ingrid Wetterqvist gave their respective institutional supports while the Special Representative of African Union Commission and head of the AU (African Union) office in Liberia Ibrahim Mbaba Kamara hailed the project and urged the Legislature to ratify laws on girls’ education, early marriage, among others.

50MWS is a three-year project funded by the African Development Bank and jointly implemented by three regional economic communities (RECs); that is, COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa), East African Community (EAC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

COUNTRY TEAM

Meanwhile, members of Liberia’s County Team of the “50MWS” are Jacob  Baccus Borweh, Sr., (Patriotic Entrepreneur of Liberia); Korlu Jallah Sango (Liberia Marketing Association); Lena T. Cummings (Women NGOs Secretariat of Liberia); Kpannah T. Itoka (Young Women’s Christian Association); Joyce Y. Tuah (Ministry of Information) and Leelai M. Kpukuyou (Africa Youth & Women’s Empowerment Initiative).

Others are Doreen McIntosh (Liberia Banker’s Association), Fatu Addy (Liberia Chamber of Commerce), Hawa Dunor Varney (Adolescent Girls Division, Gender Ministry), Siah Vanesser Hare (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Kebeh Monger (Liberia National Rural Women), Marthaline Davis (Federation of Liberian Youth), Barbara  Z. Quie (Ministry of Agriculture), Irene B. Wallace (ECOWAS Commission in Liberia), Luopu K. Cooper (ECOWAS National Office), Loretta Pope (National ECOWAS Young Women Network), Mmonbeydo Herron (ECOWAS Women Network for Peace & Security) and Stanford Peabody (ECOWAS 50 Million Women Speak Platform Project).

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