The Alliance for Women Advancement (ALWA), an all-girl empowerment project (GEP), on Thursday held its first graduation ceremony for 26 adolescent girls, who completed three-months of intensive training in soap making and baking.
Thursday’s ceremony was held at the entity’s Girls Resource Center in the ELWA Kpelleh Town Community, Paynesville.
Of the 26 graduates, 12 studied soap making, while 14 completed courses in baking a variety of breads.
ALWA is funded by the Swiss government through the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation.
Prior to the graduation, the project also conducted separate classes for 30 other adolescent girls and teen parents on topics including life skills education for adolescents, as well as provided technical skills for girls ranging from ages 15 to 19.
Two of the 30 girls who attended the education section, Ruth Woloquellie and Angeline Benson, expressed gratitude to ALWA for teaching them lessons such as gender-based violence, puberty stage, decision-making, good communication with adults, as well as how to prevent teenage pregnancy and the male and female reproductive systems.
Two other graduates, Vickie R. Tobey, 19, and Massage Joe, 19, obtained certificates in soap-making and baking. For them, like their fellow graduates, the project prepared them not only for the job market, but to secure grants to establish their own enterprises.
Earlier, the keynote speaker, Mrs. Gertrude M. Garway, a social worker, encouraged the graduates to compete with their male counterparts by developing their enterprises beyond soap making and baking.
“We are not suggesting that boys and girls are not the same; no, but we want the girls to see themselves as equal to the boys especially in any given academic terrain,” Mrs. Garway added.
She spoke on the topic, “Girls’ Empowerment; Nation Empowerment.”
She called on parents not to overwork the girl child with home assignments, but to challenge the girls to get quality learning so they can play equal roles with their male counterparts.
ALWA was established in 2012 by women-rights activists to contribute to women empowerment and gender equality. ALWA’s motto is: “Empowering Women; Building Resilient Communities,”
As for the Girls Empowerment Project, according to the 2013 Liberia Demographic Health Survey, by age 20, about nine out of ten Liberian women have had sexual intercourse, and 31 percent of all 15-19 years old have been pregnant or had a child. Therefore, they believe, adolescent girls in the country face a range of risks and vulnerabilities, for which the training program became a necessity.