A Civil Society Movement, ForumCIV, and its implementing partners, have embarked on a three-day Rural Women Land Rights Conference (RWLRC) aimed at creating a platform that allows the voices of rural women in Gbarnga, Bong County, to be heard.
ForumCIV is a politically and religiously unaffiliated development cooperation and is Sweden’s largest Civil Society Organization platform organization with over 150 Swedish organizations as members. They work to ensure that a just and sustainable world where all people have the power to effect change can exist.
The conference, which started on October 26, is being held under the theme: “Secure Land Rights Now For Rural Women”, as it is being fully funded by the Swedish government, as well as supported by the Liberia Land Authority (LLA).
The three-day conference brought face-to-face participants from different women led-organizations including, a representative from the Sweden Embassy in Monrovia, The LLA Executive Director, and the head of ForumCIV among others, as the conference is expected to benefit over 25,000 Liberians women, youth, and men.
Serving as the keynote speaker of the conference, Gbarpolu County Rural Women President, Bendu N. Jah, stressed the need for more women participation/representation in the governance of the country.
Madam Jah contended that the need for women to be represented in government, as well as the owning of land, cannot be overemphasized, indicating that it is time for their male counterpart and other well-meaning Liberians to change the mindset or notion that women belong at the back of decision making.
She further stated that gone are those days when women were made not to have a voice in the development of the country, emphasizing, “Women are not men’s slave, but their helper, and what Man can do, women can do the same or double.”
“If former President Ellen can brave the storm to defeat all men in elections, you too can do the same. She has paved the way for us, so let stand and build on the legacy she has left for all women across the globe, the rural women Gbarpolu president pleaded.
Madam Jah further urged her peers to raise their voices to call on the government of Liberia and international partners to give their right place, stressing, “This is our call because if you educate one woman, you educate a whole nation.”
ForumCIV Programme Manager, Asa D. Chon said that the program is a 36-month 51 Swedish Krona program that has two distinct components ranging from A to B, focusing on Gender Equality, Human Rights, and Democracy, Environment, and Climate Change as well as Land Rights.
According to him, the initiative by ForumCIV seeks to strengthen the capacities of Civil Society Organizations in governance, management, and programmatic issues, disclosing that the support is also tailored to specific needs of beneficial institutions with a focus on structural and systemic and human capital development for the targeted institutions.
He added that the logic of the program is to further tailor the complexity of the Liberian Civil Society that has a very weak presence outside Monrovia, stressing, “it also addresses issues relative to the exclusion and marginalization of rural rights-holder groups from leadership and the governance process of the country.”
In a remark, the Liberia Land Authority (LLA) Executive Director, Stanley N. Toe, lauded ForumCIV and the Sweden government for organizing the conference, noting that the conference among many things will increased knowledge of rural women on the key provisions of the Land Rights Act as it relates to customary community land ownership rights.
He added that the conference, ‘Secure Land Rights Now for Rural Women,’ is a clarion call for action that could not have come at a better time than now when the LLA is now in the process of developing regulations, guidelines, and procedures to implement women’s rights owing to the fact that over 70 percent of farming activities in the country was being done by rural women.
The LLA ED then used the occasion to pledge his institution’s fullest support to work with ForumCIV in ensuring that the outcome from the three-day conference will be fully implemented for the benefit of all.
Speaking also, ForumCIV Country Manager, Flemming H. Nielsen, and the Sweden Embassy Head of Development Cooperation, Johan Romare in separate remarks expressed their joy to be apart of the conference, stating that it is the first its kind to have such a conference organized in the country.
Romare then used the occasion to express the Swedish government’s continuous support through whatsoever means in ensuring that rural women’s rights are obtained while assuring ForumCIV that he will ensure his organization works with other CSOs and the LLA for the full implementation of the outcome from the conference.