The Carter Center, in collaboration with Irish Aid, on October 15, 2019, held a one-day women’s conference to help women develop creative solutions for the continued advancement of access to information in Liberia.
The conference, which was held under the theme,” inform Women, Transform lives,” brought together participants from Grand Gedeh, Montserrado, Nimba and Bong counties.
Former first lady, Comfort Sawyer, in her keynote address stressed the need for more women’s empowerment in the country in order to transform, educate and support other young women and those who are most vulnerable in society.
Madam Sawyer recounted how Liberia has over the years not provided support to women’s participation as the challenges confronting women in the country continue to intensify, stressing that as a girl growing up, she was assisted by some powerful women who enabled her to be where she is today.
She said the government needs to incorporate more women in participatory roles in the country, adding that: “When it comes to the issue of women in the country, I do not shy away from that, as my passion in life has always been to work with girls and women. I have also found the courage to handle things that had happened to women in the past and took strength from it to move forward and which I have used to help other women succeed,” she said.
Madam Sawyer said the government must ensure that the FOI is implemented to the fullest for the betterment of all in the country.
Deputy Minister from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Alice Johnson Howard noted that the government has had a lot of engagements with the Carter Center over the years, something which has helped key partners and stakeholders in the implementation and enforcement of the FOI Law.
She said that the Carter Center has also carried out a study on how women can access information and research, which have shown that women are lower or do not respond so easily as compared to their male counterparts when it comes to access to information.
Madam Howard told the gathering that in 2014, Carter Center, in collaboration with the MGCSP, along with MICAT, conducted a study to determine whether women or men are able to exercise their rights when it comes to information; it was also shown that the frequency at which women get information is far lower as compared to their male counterpart.
In an overview, Carter Center Senior Gender Specialist Cerue Konah Garlo indicated that over a period of four years, results show that women were not using the law as much as their male colleagues, but noted that with support from the Irish Aid, the Carter Center has been supporting key stakeholders in 25 communities to reach across four counties and over 1,250 women, to enable them to access public information.