February 25, 2024

Gender Minister Saydee-Tarr Calls for Women’s Political Participation, Economic Empowerment

-launches “Promotion of Women’s Empowerment and Rights in Liberia” (POWER) program

Liberia’s Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP), Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr has craved for an increase in women’s political participation and women’s economic empowerment, an initiative she said her government is focused on supporting.

Mrs. Saydee-Tarr made the remarks on Friday, March 11, 2022, during the official launch of the “Promotion of Women’s Empowerment and Rights in Liberia” (POWER) program organized by Kvinna Till Kvinna held at a resort in Monrovia.

The POWER program, which is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA), targets women and young girls in River Gee, Maryland, Grand Kru, Sinoe, Bong, Grand Bassa, Nimba, and Montserrado counties and aims to contribute to a more effective, resilient and visible women’s movement in Liberia.

Mrs. Saydee-Tarr said since the adoption of the government’s own gender responses budgeting planning in 2019,  the Ministries of Finance and Gender have collaborated in ensuring that programs and budgets that are developed by spending entities are gender responses.

“The budget of Liberia affects all citizens but the impact is not the same for all social groups, especially for women, girls, and boys as well as those experiencing different classes of inequalities such as age and physical disability,” Mrs. Saydee-Tarr said.

According to her, during the President’s recent county tour, the women were not asking for hangouts but asking to be shown how to fish so that they would be able to fish on their own.

Mrs. Saydee-Tarr said based on the different conversations from around the country, the President mandated that two million United States dollars be set aside for rural women and will be affected in the 2022 budget.

“We will be working with the rural women structures and we hope that all of them will understand this. We want county-by-county to come together to identify a project or program so that more value will come out of the money and not individuals wanting the money,” Mrs. Saydee-Tarr said.

Mrs. Saydee-Tarr said she was delighted because the President understood that the women themselves want to be empowered through microloans.

Commenting on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Mrs. Saydee-Tarr said Liberia is making progress with the support from the traditional leaders.

“Before we wouldn’t say FGM in their presence but today, we all can sit and discuss the problems caused by FGM with them leading the conversation. In 2019, they placed a one-year moratorium on FGM practice and it was extended in 2020 because of the coronavirus and was again extended for three years banned,” Mrs. Saydee-Tarr said.

Mrs. Saydee-Tarr said she is looking forward to having more conversations around ending FGM practice in Liberia before the end of the three years banned.

Speaking on women’s political participation, Mrs. Saydee-Tarr said women have to be able to support each other, stating “if three women in a particular area are thinking of running, we have to come together to support one person.” 

The Head of Political and Economic Governance of the Delegation of the European Union to Liberia, Jyrki TORN, said he was delighted about the partnership between Kvinna Till Kvinna and Sweden because both of them represent a success story of women’s rights.

Mr. TORN said there exist no 100 percent equality rights because the society was designed by men and calls on the Kvinna Till Kvinna to ensure that all resources for the program are used for changing the design. 

He calls for empowering women in advocacy as Liberia prepares for the upcoming elections, stating “it starts by forcing political parties to adhere to 30 percent women’s participation.

Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Sweden, Johan Romare said he was elated to see civil society organizations and the gender ministry speaking in the same language.

“We are happy to invest some resources into this partnership where both the government of Liberia and civil society organizations can support women. We want to see real change,” Mr. Romare said.

The Country Representative of the United Nations Office on High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR), Uchenna Emelonye said organizations supporting women’s rights show that they are directly supporting human rights.

Mr. Emelonye said human rights cannot be achieved when the rights of the greater population of the citizenry are still lacking.

Meanwhile, Mr. Emelonye said there are more women at the Monrovia Central Prison that have finished their term of prison but are not able to be released because they have not paid the monetary component that took them to prison.

Mr. Emelonye told the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection Mrs. Saydee-Tarr of his office’s commitment to addressing the issue.  

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