Vice President Boakai Advocates for Women’s Empowerment

Friday, 10th December 2010

Monrovia, Liberia - Vice President Joseph N. Boakai has stressed the need to educate and empower women and afford them the opportunity to participate fully in the political and economic life of their communities.

He said unless women have access to education and participate fully in the political and economic life of their communities, there will continue to be a limit to how far a woman can excel, adding, “women’s economic empowerment is our strength  and one that can affect outcomes in all areas”.
 
He observed that the 2005 presidential results demonstrated that educating girls is the most effective development investment in Liberia, noting, “We are seeing results which are leading to future women leadership, employability and higher wages, as well as improvement in the well-being of families of single mothers.”

Vice President Boakai made the recommendation on Friday, December 10, when he delivered the keynote address at the first graduation program of the Economic Empowerment of Adolescent Girls and Young Women Project conducted by the Liberia Entrepreneurial &Economic Development, Inc (LEED).

“We need roads, bridges, beautiful public buildings, including recreation parks and all the necessities of a cosmopolitan city. However, these would only become ‘white elephant’ projects, if we fail in our responsibilities to train the minds of our youth to sustain these developments,” the Vice President further emphasized.

He therefore underscored the need to develop the new Liberian mindset that would lead to change in behaviors and drive sustainability of the post-war nation’s progress.

Vice President Boakai lamented that the African region is not fully tapping the economic potential of its women, noting, “when we boost female employment and tap women’s potential, it results in economic growth’. He added that any nation would face astounding losses if it does not address the economic potential of women.

“When you improve a girl’s life, many more lives benefit: her future children from sound education, her sisters, brothers, parents and all other extended relatives benefit as well. As an educated mother, an active citizen, an ambitious entrepreneur or prepared employee, she will contribute immensely to breaking the vicious cycle of poverty,” the Vice President emphasized. 

He also regretted that women continue to encounter great inequality in workforce participation and women-run businesses face many roadblocks such as access to credit and markets, a lack of training and mentoring, and that in spite of the passage of the law supporting women’s right to inherit property, there still remain discriminatory ethnic traditions that need to be corrected. 

Vice President Boakai assured graduates that one of the major focuses of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-led administration is women empowerment and economic growth, and that the Unity party-led Administration’s major development pillar initiative on Governance and Rule of Law has a gender focus. 

He lauded the EPAG project, describing it as unique, not only for its focus on girls, but also because it is market-driven and builds a public-private partnership, and bridges the gap between skills training and the labor market, adding, “It focuses on  practical, hands-on training and pushes hard for high quality standards”.

In remarks at the program, the Executive Director of LEED, Mr Avril Fortuin said the program which is the first EPAG job skills training graduation program, celebrates the success of young girls who started the program about eight months ago.
 
He said the EPAG project is a three-year pilot project which aims to increase employment and incomes among 2,500 Liberian young women aged between 16-27 years.

Also in remarks, Minister Rufus Kaine who is the EPAG Focal Point at the Ministry of Gender and Development, appealed to employers in both the private and public sectors to assist the graduates obtain jobs, and challenged the graduates to endeavor to prove worthy of the training offered  them as they go into the job market.

With support from President Ellen Johnson Sirlreaf, the EPAG project is the first of its kind under the World Bank’s Global Adolescent Girls Initiative. The Ministry of Gender and Development is leading the mplementation and coordination of the project which is part of the Joint Program on Youth Employment and Empowerment, with a team of service providers and consultants.

151 girls New Kru Town, Bassa Community and Old Road communities earned certificates in professional painting, professional cleaning, hospitality and office and computer skills.