By Bill W. Cooper
A non for profit Civil Society Movement, ForumCIV and its implementing partners have embarked on a three-day Rural Women Land Rights Conference (RWLRC) aimed at creating a platform which allows the voices of rural women to be heard, in Gbarnga, Bong County.
The conference which started yesterday, October 26, is being held under the theme: “Secure Land Rights Now For Rural Women”, as it is being fully funded by the Swedish government, as well as supported by the Liberia Land Authority (LLA).
The conference brought face-to-face participants from different women led-organizations including representatives from the Sweden Embassy in Monrovia, the LLA Executive Director and the head of ForumCIV among others, as the conference is expected to benefit over 25,000 Liberian women, youths and men.
Serving as the keynote speaker of the conference, Gbarpolu County Rural president, Bendu N. Jah stressed the need for more women participation/representation in the governance of the country.
Madam Jah argued that the needs for women to be represented in government as well as the owning of land cannot be overemphasized, indicating that it is time for their male counterparts and other well-meaning Liberians to change the mindset or notion that women belong at the back of decision-making.
She further stated that gone are those days when women were made not to have voice in the development of the country, emphasizing, “Women are not ‘men’s slave’ but instead their helpers, and what men can do, women can do likewise or even double.”
“If former President Ellen can brave the storm and defeat all men in elections, you too can do the same. She has paved the way for us, so let’s stand and build in the legacy she has left for all women across the globe,” the rural women in Gbarpolu president urged.
Madam Jah further urged her peers to raise their various voices aimed at calling on the government of Liberia and international partners, in order for their rights to be given, averring, “This is our call, because if you educate one woman, you educate a whole nation.”
Giving an overview of the ForumCIV Sustainable Ownership Programme earlier, ForumCIV Programme Manager, Asa D. Chon said that the programme is a 36-month, 51 Swedish Krona programme which has two distinct components ranging from (A to B) that focuses on Gender Equality, Human Rights and Democracy, Environment and Climate Change as well as Land Rights, as both of them complement each other.
According to him, the initiative by ForumCIV seeks to strengthen the capacities of Civil Society Organizations in governance, management and programmatic issues, disclosing that the support is also tailored to specific needs of beneficiary institutions with a focus on structural and systemic and human capital development for the targeted institutions.
He added that the logic of the programme is to further tailor the complexity of the Liberian Civil Society which has a very weak presence outside Monrovia, stressing, “It also addresses issues relative to the exclusion and marginalization of rural rights-holders’ groups from leadership and the governance process of the country.”
In remark, the Liberia Land Authority (LLA) Executive Director, Stanley N. Toe lauded ForumCIV and the Swedish government for organizing the conference, noting that the conference among many things will increase knowledge of rural women on the key provisions of the Land Rights Act, as it relates to customary communities land ownership rights.
He added that the theme of the conference ‘Secure Land Rights Now for Rural Women) is a clarion call for action that could not have come at a better time than now when the LLA is now in the process of developing regulations, guidelines and procedures to implement women rights owing to the fact that over 70 percent of farming activities in the country are done by rural women.
The LLA ED then used the occasion to pledge his institution’s fullest support to work with ForumCIV in ensuring that the outcome from the conference will be fully implemented for the benefit of all.
Speaking also, ForumCIV Country Manager, Flemming H. Nielsen and the Swedish Embassy Head of Development Cooperation, Johan Romare in separate remarks expressed their joy to be a part of the conference, stating that it is the first of its kind to have such a conference organized in the country.
Romare then used the occasion to the Swedish government’s continuous support through whatsoever means in ensuring that rural women’s rights are obtained, while ForumCIV said that he will ensure that his organization works with other CSO including the LLA for the full implementation of the outcome from the conference.
ForumCIV is a politically and religiously unaffiliated development cooperation and it’s also said to be Sweden’s largest Civil Society Platform Organization with over 150 Swedish organizations as members.
ForumCIV work in Liberia is to ensure a just and sustainable world where all people have the power to effect change, as the core focus of ForumCIV is to serve as Development Actor, Grant Administrator, Advocate, and Capacity Developer, using the Right Based approach that seeks change.
3-Day Rural Women Land Rights Confab Kicks Off In Bong County
By Bill W. Cooper