LOVE FROM LIBERIA
My trip to Liberia to attend the All Liberia Women Summit and Some other meetings was sponsored by The Empowerment Institute to go and represent the Imagine Initiave on a Colaborative Initiave to alleviate the problems facing Liberia Women.
The Summit started with invocation from Ophelia Kennedy, one of the women leaders in Liberia. After this was the welcome remark by Hon Julia Duncan Cassell, Minister, Ministry of Gender and Development. In her address, she intimated Liberian women on the fact that Liberia was a role model for the nations of Africa because it takes great efforts and dedication for a conflict ridden nation like Liberia to rise up again to where they were. She went further to say that these efforts was recognized global and that women of Liberia played a significant roles in the rebuilding of their nation which qualifies them for further recognitions for promoting peace. She then charged them not to let the Summit be business as usual but use it to provide concrete recommendations on substantive issues and that Ministry of Gender and Development will always work to support these recommendations as they have already moving ahead on the recommendations made last year.
The Executive Director, Women’s NGO Secretariat of Liberia, Mrs Marpue Spears in her own address started that 2011 All Liberia Women Summit demonstrated that investing on women is not only the right thing to do but that it yielded the highest social return on investments. She went further to say that since the summit women have continued to work in their communities with renewed energy and commitment. This year’s summit according to her will be another opportunity to collaborate and build collective actions in moving forward on what they have started. Key opportunities and challenges were highlighted at the summit and there were three important discussion topics at the summit which were:-
1) Continue to Work on Women’s Access to Resources
2) Gaining more Life Skills: Training/Tools in Microfinance, Education and the environment, it was on this topic that the Empowerment Training workshop came in.
3) Improving Partnership for Women: National Structures & Local Actions.
The discussions and deliberations went on for hour, the grassroots women well represented at the summit.The Specific steps to achieve goals were highlighted after the discussions. Those who should be responsible in taken the steps were also highlighted and it was the Governments, the NGOs or the Micro Finance Institutions.
LESSONS LEARNT AT THE SUMMIT
1) The kind of Summit that will involved the Grassroots Women, all the NGO working with women, the Ministry of Women Affairs and Organizations supporting the Empowerment of Women to come together to look at the way forward in alleviating women’s problem have never happened in my country. I have learnt at the summit that this could be a way of having fruitful deliberations and collaborations among women. The step I want to take to make this happen in my country is to first contact all the women NGO in the South Western Nigeria because Nigeria is a very big country. I am planning to make this contact through social media like Facebook, WorldPulse and LinkedIn so that together we can organize a meeting and start this move from South West and then move to other part of the country as time goes on. When we have our meeting I already have some things that could be part of our agenda through what I have learnt at the summit. After the meeting we will then send representatives among us to visit our Government Leaders in the region and intimate them on the need to invest on women which will not be a waste at all.