The Liberia Macroeconomic Policy Analysis Center (LIMPAC) in collaboration with African Capacity Building Fund (ACBF) with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has completed a 3-day events for the empowerment of women in agriculture and entrepreneurship.
The event included a one-day Policy Advocacy Forum, and two days leadership training for women agriculture cooperatives, and women entrepreneurs.
It was held with the objective to promote sustainable agriculture in Africa with women at the forefront through the “Empowerment of Women in Agriculture (EWA)” project.
The events are piloted in Liberia, Rwanda, and Malawi, which were held at a resort in Monrovia from September 19, brought together about 150 participants, representing women farmers, leaders of women farmer cooperatives and networks, government, civil society, and research and academic institutions.
During the Advocacy forum, challenges affecting women productivity, especially women in agriculture, and entrepreneurship were discussed and the women also provided useful recommendations to help government resolve their problems.
Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor lauded LIMPAC and the ACBF Team for organizing the forum.
V.P. Taylor then underscored the need for Liberians to prioritize agriculture, because there are tremendous gains from agriculture financially and Liberia is well placed given its abundant fertile soil that is under-utilized.
She also called on Liberian women to encourage their children to go back to the soil so that Liberia can be self-sufficient in food-production like Liberia were between 1960, and 1970.
V.P. Taylor used the occasion to re-emphasize the need for the government of Liberia to re-operationalize the Agriculture Cooperative Development Bank to address financing challenges of the farmers, especially women in Agriculture.
The Deputy Minister for Budget and Development, Tanneh Brunson, on behalf of Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Jr. thanked the ACBF for the continued support to Liberia capacity building initiatives, recounting the ACBF recent support in establishing and ope-rationalizing a econometric forecasting and training laboratory within the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.
Madam Brunson praised Liberian Business Women as being dynamic and more likely to be self-employed than men.
She underscored that the result of the Liberian Civil War posed a serious challenge to the capacity building of women to enhance their skills in and challenges faced by women as limited financial infrastructure, restricted access to market, insufficient network to support women entrepreneurs, wide gender-gap, high gender segregation, poor access to credit for women, vulnerability to gender-based violence, lack of general representation of women businesses in wide business network like the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, etc.
Consequently, Brunson proffered the following recommendations: a comprehensive and sensitive skill enhancement program for women entrepreneurship should be established, flexible business and skills training program should also be established, there should be mechanism for easy access to finance by women, integrated financial literacy training programs should be prioritized, and policymakers should seize the opportunity to address the obstacle that women face in the business arena through legislation and policy reforms.
On behalf of the ACBF, Dixon Antwi highlighted the significance of ACBF since its formation in 1991 by African Heads of State.
Antwi said that the ACBF has spent about 700 million across the continent on capacity-building since its inception in 1991.
Mr. Antwi stated that the essence of the forum and training was to provide opportunities for women and to discuss issues that impact the lives of women in order to evolve effective policies. He acknowledged the role of women and also lauded key actors who made the program to be possible.
Specific policy recommendations for consideration by policy makers towards enhancing the role of women farmers and their network would have been fully addressed in Liberia.
Key recommendations include, establishment of Women Cooperative Bank and design and implementation of favorable policies for women agriculture and entrepreneurs.
On leadership and entrepreneurship for the women in agriculture, the executive director of LIMPAC, Del-Francis Wreh thanked the participants, and asked them to take advantage of the training courses for the benefit of their respective businesses and cooperatives.
The training brought together about 125 participants representing more that 40 leaders of women cooperatives, and individual women farmers from thirteen of the fifteen political subdivisions in Liberia.
The women had interactive training sessions and were taught various skills in leadership, communications, and, listening.
They were also taught marketing and business plan and how to sustain a business. Each of the participants received certificate of participation at the end of two days from LIMPAC and ACBF Teams.