Community Dialogue Vital to Citizen Empowerment

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The Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Varney A. Sirleaf, has described community dialogue as vital to government’s understanding of the needs of citizens at the grassroots level, especially women, the physically challenged and youth.

Minister Sirleaf made the assertion on Wednesday at the validation workshop on community dialogue consultation findings held at the Monrovia City Hall.
Superintendents, chiefs, civil society representatives, local and international partners, among others, participated in the validation, and pledged their commitment to collaborate in the implementation of its findings.

Minister Sirleaf hoped that the findings will address the concerns of women, youth, elders and the physically challenged, who, he noted, are the most marginalized groups with regard to access to basic services and other government support at the local level.

“It gave the participants confidence that their views would also count in decision-making. They expressed their needs and concerns and also stated their comparative advantages to decision-makers, which can be crucial in designing local development programs,” he said.

Liberian women, according to him, have always played a pivotal yet unacknowledged role in national development, and expressed appreciation to the National Decentralization and Local Governance Policy, whose focus is on inclusive governance with the full engagement of women and men from counties, districts and communities across the country.

Mrs. Awa Ndiaye-Seck, UN Women Country Representative to Liberia, said the community dialogue would help take some processes from the national level to the various communities across the country.

“The community has spoken and the first step in taking the findings of the consultations to the national level is by sharing them with our partners and the donor community, civil society organizations and others (in order for them) to know the community’s position on the recovery process of Liberia,” Mrs. Ndiaye-Seck said.

Some of the issues raised by the community include the need for communication to keep them informed of the happenings and networking that would bring women in various districts, communities and the counties together.

“This is the last phase of the process that started over three months ago and the key objective was to see how we can impact some of the global processes that have an effect on Liberia, as well as some national processes to the community,” she added.

Madam Ndiaye-Seck pledged the UN Women’s commitment to supporting the government in addressing findings of the dialogue to ensure that community needs and concerns can also help in Liberia’s recovery process.

Mary Larteh, Paramount Chief from Bong County and a member of the community dialogue, described the discussions as unprecedented, especially for women.

“This is a dialogue that women were able to speak out about their needs and concerns and about native women in places that are not accessible. The women were able to talk about their children’s needs and how they can be part of this government,” she added.

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