Head of UN Women Gender Equality and Empowerment Commits to Expanding Support to Women Leadership in Liberia

By Konah Rufus

Reports coming in from New York say, the Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Ms. Sima Sami Bahous, has committed that the entity will expand its direct support to women leadership in Liberia.

Executive Director Bahous said UN Women values the partnership it has with Liberia and will provide more support to empower women organizations and networks, improve agricultural practices and help the Government of Liberia develop a feminist foreign policy.

The UN Women boss further stated that the areas being supported align with the priorities of the Government and the strategic plan of UN Women–participation of women in leadership, economic empowerment of women, peace and security, climate, gender equality, and gender-sensitive budgeting.

ED Bahous: “In your own country, if there’s anything that we can be doing together we are happy to do that. We are looking at agriculture, because of the link between climate change and gender equality; we are looking at helping women’s networks and women’s organizations to be empowered and recover from the repercussions of the COVID pandemic and the price hike of the Ukraine war. Also, our support will be extended to overall women leadership and the development of a feminist policy that you are initiating.”

Executive Director Bahous made the commitments on Monday, September 19, 2022, during a meeting with the Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection of Liberia, Hon. Willamette Saydee Tarr, on the sidelines of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

For her part, Minister Tarr thanked UN Women for its continuous support of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in Liberia and assured that His Excellency President George Manneh Weah, Liberia’s Feminist in Chief, was committed to enhancing women’s political participation.

Minister Tarr spoke of the President’s appointment of females in key Cabinet posts and his advocacy for the 30 percent quota on women representation.

“We, female cabinet members make up 1/3rd of the Cabinet and we have the most important portfolios—Health, Agriculture, Commerce, Public Works, and Gender, Children and Social Protection. We again thank UN Women for its support of political participation in Liberia. On the side of the Executive, the   President has been advocating and has made strong commitments for political participation including at UNESCO and the Dubai Summit. Now, the lower house has agreed that political parties submit at least 30 percent female candidates as part of their nomination listing. For us at the ruling political party, we have taken the lead and committed to 40 percent nomination of female candidates; we feel that it is good competition”. Minister Tarr noted.

The Gender Minister also reassured that Liberia remains committed to the two Action Coalitions adopted at the Generation Equality Forum (GEF): accelerating the prevention of gender-based violence and promoting economic justice and rights.  She shared progress in implementing the commitments, including the development of the Government’s Anti-SGBV Roadmap, the three-year suspension of the practice of FGM, the purchase and operationalization of DNA machines, the operationalization of a call center with a toll-free line to report cases of SGBV across Liberia, and budgetary and donor support to promote economic justice and rights.

On the development of a Feminist Foreign Policy, Minister Tarr informed that the Ministries of Gender, Children and Social Protection, and Foreign Affairs have initiated the process of consultations with other government ministries and stakeholders. The consultations, which will also involve the city, will inform the formulation of a feminist foreign policy framework.

The Minister of Gender was accompanied to the meeting by the Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, and the Minister of Public Works, Hon. Ruth Coker Collins. They spoke of the interlinkages between the work they do, the promotion and achievement of gender equality, and the empowerment of women and girls. The Ministers joined Minister Tarr in calling for more support to promote the overall well-being of women and girls.

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