The Youth Coalition for Education in Liberia (YOCEL) recently organized a one-day training workshop in response to reports of gender-based violence against women, and to support initiatives to increase women’s participation in Grand Gedeh County political and democratic activities.
The Funding Leadership Opportunity for Women Project (FLOW) sponsored the training which brought together 16 women activists including female politicians and other women leaders.
The FLOW project, according to a release, is funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs to promote a life free from violence for women and adolescent girls through empowering women as change agents. The project also fosters greater awareness of gender equality and women’s rights, while promoting the prevention and response to violence against women by public institutions and regional and international authorities. It further seeks to address unequal gendered power relations through a transformation approach.
The workshop was held at the Youth Center in Zwedru City, with a cross section of community-based organizations (CBOs) and stakeholders under the theme, “Platform to Respond to Violence Against Women, Girls and the Promotion of Women Leadership in Grand Gedeh County.” YOCEL is implementing activities of outcome of the project in Grand Gedeh under the OXFAM IBIS consortium.
Participants raised several issues on how rural women can be more included in decision-making processes, leadership and amplify their voices. After a series of consultations, the women reached a resolution to build a strong social mobilization team that will advocate against sexual gender-based violence (SGBV) and address other challenges faced by women, that exist in the communities and the county.
The lead facilitator, Bishop Theo Barbi Roberts, Director of THREM, Inc. a faith- based NGO, urged women to become watchdogs of violence against women and girls and urged them to be the change they want and to advocate for women’s participation in leadership.
Mr. Roberts indicated that the abuse of women and girls poses a serious threat to the nation and hampers the growth of its citizens.
He admonished the women and girls that no matter how frustrated Liberians are in the leadership and governance system, the only way to change it is to wake-up, shake-up and stand-up to participate in the 2017 elections.
Ben T.C. Brooks, YOCEL Regional Coordinator, encouraged the women to work together and champion the cause of speaking out. He challenged the women to take up political leadership in their respective communities and county.
At the close of the workshop, the women organized themselves into a consortium, and elected a leadership to steer their affairs. The leadership includes Madam Irene Sirleaf Jayee, chair lady; Madam Bessey Brooks, co–chair; Miss Patience Jah, secretary; Madam Esther T. Wright, treasurer; and Madam Alice Kowleh, chaplain.