The Paramount Young Women Initiative (PAYOWI) has provided loans to 60 grassroots women aimed at empowering them to respond to COVID-19 pandemic and report on Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) cases within their respective communities.
The project under which the loan is provided to the grassroots women is branded, “Strengthening Local Community Women Groups Capacity to Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic,” and is funded by the Feminist Humanitarian Network (FHN), a conglomerate of local and national women’s rights organizations, regional women’s networks, international NGOs, and academic organizations.
The Program Officer of Paramount Young Women Initiative (PAYOWI), Hawa C. Wilson, informed the Daily Observer recently that “The project is not just focusing on women’s capacity in responding to COVID-19, but also on grassroots women to support or encourage them of women leadership. The project will also assist women in monitoring community-based organizations and reporting sexual gender-based violence cases.”
Ms. Wilson indicated that the project seeks to provide genuine support to women in highlighting or reporting alarming incidents of SGBV cases in various communities.
Ms. Wilson said communities benefiting from the project in Montserrado County include Samukai Camp and Mount Barclay, while in Margibi County Duazon and Marshall are on the list. She clarified that “Beneficiaries made a request to PAYOWI to intervene in their plight because the pandemic put them out of business.” Each beneficiary is to receive US$150.
“The funds are mainly intended to support petty traders who had their businesses running but disrupted by COVID-19 and brought setbacks to them. Perhaps, they have used those funds for feeding and other things,” she said.
Ms. Wilson said the micro-loan is a non-interest loan, an initiative the beneficiaries described as welcoming.
Also, on the agenda of the project according to Ms. Wilson is the need to help survivors of rape and other SGBV cases to get justice through tracking and reporting.
To prepare women to undertake leadership initiatives in local communities, the PAYOWI Program Officer said: “We will be training women to have the technical skills in leadership and participation. Most often, especially in the community, the top position a woman occupies is Treasurer. We believe that providing the skills will help them to understand the roles in other positions and by that, they can ascend to those positions,” Ms. Wilson said.
Jebbeh Golafaley, women leader of Samukai camp in Montserrado County Sexual Gender-based Violence (SGBV), expressed gratitude and appreciation to the Feminist Humanitarian Network for using PAYOWI to support Liberian women in their businesses.
Madam Golafaley described the project as a “Heaven-sent” initiative amid huge challenges posed by COVID-19.
Diana Jarka, PAYOWI-Duazon SGBV women group leader, lauded the Feminist Humanitarian Network and Paramount Young Women Initiative for strengthening local community women groups and promoting grassroots women leadership.
Madam Jarka said the project will help them understand SGBV reporting pathways and empower them after experiencing a Coronavirus shock that brought many businesses to their knees.