Ingrid Wetterqvest, Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, has described female representation at the decision-making table as an ‘important component’ for prospering society.
Amb. Wetterqvest Liberia has a lot to do when it comes to female representation, citing an example on the Senate that has two women Senators and 28 men, and in the House of Representatives having eight women while the rest are men.
“With the level of representation at the Legislature, it shows that the women do not have formal rights that men are afforded. So, they need to find other ways to get at the decision-making table to make their voices and concerns heard, “Amb. Wetterqvist said.
During a town hall meeting, at the Webbo Teacher Training Institute (WRTTI), in River Gee County, Amb. Wetterqvist said it is important to have women in parliament to give them the opportunity to debate and discuss resources and speak about the development of the country.
“A country like Liberia, with all of its challenges and legacies from the civil war, has a lot of rebuilding and needs a lot of things to be put in place including education, health, agriculture, and roads,” Amb. Wetterqvist added.
The Swedish ambassador indicated that her visit to the southeastern region that was initiated in cooperation with River Gee County Senator, Conmany B. Wesseh, UNFA, and Ministry of Health has helped her to understand more about the challenges facing the county.
Wetterqvest furthered that the Swedish government’s program for young people that involves sexual and reproductive health rights is “Killing many birds with one stone,” which focuses on the importance of women’s education and representation in Liberia.
“And we are looking at women because our Minister of Foreign Affairs back home has asked us to focus on the feminist policy. This means Taking on the gender glasses and looking at how different life is for women and girls through access to representation, access to resources, and the realization of right (The three Rs),” she told the gathering.
“When the issue of teenage pregnancy is addressed,” Amb. Wetterqvist said, “You will have educated females and reduction in marital death and have a healthy community that enables women to stay in school even if they have had a child.”
Also speaking at the Town Hall, Senator Conmany Wesseh said women have been very instrumental when it comes to peace, adding that providing contraception for young girls helps add value to their lives. He said the Youth Friendly Center constructed by the Swedish Government through UNFPA and implemented by BRAC-Liberia has contributed to girls being able to stay in school and make an informed decision about their sexual and reproductive health rights.
“Because of the Swedish Government’s support, teenagers are able to stay in school and there is a change in the number of adolescence pregnancy,” Senator Wesseh said.
Senator Wesseh further addded that women make great impact when they are educated, and he called on women to take advantage of the services and training to ensure that they are informed about the choices.
Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi, UNFPA Country Representative to Liberia, used the occasion to inform community members about the upcoming census.
He pleaded with community members to accept and work with the geographic mappers for the good of the country. He said the process will enable a proper mapping and help the government to understand where the resources are and how it can focus its developmental agenda.
He thanked the community for accepting the program and making some changes in their reproductive lives.
Meanwhile, the Ambassador visited two major villages in River Gee County and was welcomed with a traditional war dance and given two traditional names. In Joyproken, she was named Teetay, meaning Wisdom and in Tejiliken, she was named Wah-wah meaning Blessings.