The World Bank Board has approved a financing package to improve economic livelihoods and access to social services for women and girls in targeted communities, foster positive social norms, and strengthen the government's capacity to advance women and girls’ empowerment in Liberia.
The Liberia Women Empowerment Project (LWEP) is financed by the International Development Association (IDA) in the amount of $44.60 million ($17.80 million grant and $26.80 million concessional credit).
According to a statement from the World Bank, LWEP will address in a comprehensive way the various key constraints and barriers that women and girls in Liberia face in realizing their full potential. In particular, the project will empower women and girls by providing them with grants to start and expand women-led businesses across various sectors and providing them with the relevant training and mentoring so that they are successful in such businesses.
The project will also support positive changes in social norms, behavior, and attitudes that create a conducive and safe social environment for women and girls and empowers them to make individual and collective life-changing decisions including access to economic opportunities, education, and health services. Finally, the project will also strengthen the capacity of relevant national institutions so that they are able to design, implement, and scale up programs that empower women and girls.
“The evidence is very clear that investing in our women and girls is not only the right thing to do, but a smart thing to do in that it can have the same transformational impact on a country’s development as investing in hard infrastructure. That is why we have come up with an equally large financing package for Liberia. We would like to commend the Government and its leadership for taking full ownership in seeing the need to invest big in Liberia’s women and girls,” said Khwima Nthara, World Bank Liberia Country Manager.
The project will initially target about 267,200 beneficiaries from 750 communities that will be selected based on particular needs. As lessons are learned on what approaches work better and capacity is built, the programs will be scaled up to more communities and beneficiaries. The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection will serve as the implementing agency but will work in collaboration with various other ministries and agencies, such as the Ministry of Agriculture.
“This project seeks to ensure effective and sustainable ways of empowering women and girls by using a community-based approach involving community members aimed at improving social and livelihood services for women and girls and addressing gender-related norms and behaviors in Liberia, while also supporting the government’s plan to strengthen core institutions that work on Gender,” said Co-Task Team Leaders Jana El-Horr, Michael Mahrt.