The European Union Delegation to Liberia with support from Irish Aid has provided funding for the Inclusive Civic, Political Participation, and Peaceful Election Project in order to strengthen the capacity of Muslims, disabled and marginalized women in the decision-making process in seven counties, including, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi, Bong, Montserrado, Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Sinoe.
The project worth US$470, 000, and is being implemented by ZOA in partnership with the Liberia Peace Building Office in Monrovia.
The primary objective of the project is to establish a more conducive environment for women and people living with disabilities to ensure their participation in civic and political activities based on an inclusive dialogue that could empower local women and disabled groups.
Speaking during the EU Delegation’s visit, Ambassador Laurent Delahousse, Head of the European Union Delegation to Liberia, challenged the beneficiaries to help ensure that the project has a positive effect on the next generations.
He urged the beneficiaries to share the knowledge gained in an effort to make sure that women are fully represented in the decision-making process of the country.
Ambassador Delahousse stated that women should participate in the democratic process of the nation to guarantee genuine values of tolerance, mutual understanding, peace and reconciliation in the society.
Also speaking, Madam Watta Fofana, Co-Chair of the Quarnu Bonu Women Organization in Margibi County, said the project has had a significant impact on her life and her organization.
“I tell ZOA thank you. We the women from the Muslim religion, for women to stand to speak, it used to be difficult. But now, ZOA has made me to be proud to stand anywhere to speak for myself. I like whenever I am speaking to walk around. Government never knew about us, while we were in this town”. Madam Fofana said.
Madam Fofana recalling the past Senatorial election said, “The Senatorial election that just went on, if it was [were] not ZOA, the government was not going to count us. Quannu Bonu women’s names are on the list. ZOA has made it possible for to work with the office of the superintendent”.
Madam Julia Blama claimed that the project has immensely helped to empower the beneficiaries both civilly and politically. She noted that the project has improved her skills to mobilize and speak to people without fear.
“I want to thank those that sponsored this project for ZOA. If you people were not going to sponsor ZOA, they were not going to come to empower us. When ZOA came, they said they want to empower us. When we hear about empowerment in Liberia, we think about money business,” said Madam Blama.
She pledged to contest for elected positions, including the Paramount Chief position, adding that the knowledge gained from the project will help ensure that women do not become “second the motion” during decision-making in their respective communities and the country at large.
“ZOA went so far and told me that I should not stay behind; I should be a part of the decision-making or when men or people say your come, I should not say your go and anything your say, I will be part of it, or I must not be second to the motion; I must always find space somewhere for my voice to be heard. Today, my voice is being heard within my district and clan because nothing they do there without informing me.”
“We the Muslim women, for us to stand in public and talk (speak), it is not an easy thing; when men are sitting somewhere, you can’t even pass there. Muslim women for you to pass among public, you will kneel down before you pass. But this time around, we are able to stand in the public and talk”, Mrs. Madusu S. Kamara intoned.
She disclosed that though she was only a high school graduate who normally took care of her family at home, the decision taken to advance her education was based upon a meeting with officials of ZOA.
Mrs. Kamara attributed the respect she has gained among her colleagues to her desire to always be willing to learn many things at the medical facility.
“Let me tell ZOA thank you. It’s because of you people I am where I am today. Although we cannot speak good English, we can’t be afraid now to stand among public to talk one or two things”.