Liberia’s Minister of Finance and Development Planning Samuel Tweah, notes that rural-based citizens are hit by serious challenges due to lack of education.
“The statistics shown to me is scaring; it shows that young children between the ages of 6-9 and even young people, about 800,000 are believed to be out of school and that depends on everyone of us to turn their situation around, and in doing that, it has to be a gender balance.”
Speaking over the weekend during the formal launch and opening of the Gender-Response Policy Budgeting unit within the ministry, he says the unit will help in addressing the stark reality of girl’s education in Liberia, and their participation in the overall nation building process of the country.
Minister Tweah reminds that the burden of those numbers of children that are out of school rests mainly on young girls, saying “We all know that when a girl child is out of school, her entire future is lost; it is not just one man’s future that is lost, but a future of an entire family, and community, because the power of women lies in their education.”
He says research has shown that if women are educated, the result for a nation is better, and this is what makes the policy important, stressing a need to make sure the 2018-2019 budget becomes the most sensitive budget in Liberia’s history.
“Against this I say girl’s education should be a priority, because we all are aware of teenage pregnancy, it is dangerous to our society, and we are committed to supporting this effort in making sure this policy meets its objective.”.
According to Minister Tweah, the issue of girl’s education in every society cannot be over-emphasized, noting that employment and empowerment of women and girls is paramount to the growth and development of a nation.
Tweah continues that Liberia has come a long way from gender violence, all geared toward gender mainstreaming with the help of government and partners such as UN Women, EU, SIDA and others.
He says government is mainstreaming gender in its development approach to the extent that the Ministry of Finance has established a gender response budget policy within the ministry.
He says the formal launch and opening ceremony demonstrates that gender response policy budgeting is an effort that is well collaborated across government, and development partners.
“|We are going to make the best in ensuring that anything that will be done will reflect gender balance in planning, execution, road development, in Agriculture and Health there will be gender balance.
For her part, Madam Lorpu G. Mannah, Director of Girl’s Education at the Ministry of Education expresses satisfaction over the launch and opening of the gender-response policy budgeting unit at the ministry, saying such will help to propagate, and highlights issues relating to gender.
“I want to thank the MFDP for taking such a bold step in forming this policy that we believe will help to address some of the issues of gender response budgeting, this brings me joy because this initiative started long ago.”
Director Mannah continues that now the policy has been launched, “We are hoping that the budget that will be developed should not be trashed by members of the Legislature, because what we have noticed every time, budget is passed; gender issues are trashed out, and that is something that we don’t want.”
The ceremony brought together officials of government from line ministries, agencies, and commission, including development partners like the European Union, ADB, World Bank, Swedish Embassy.
By Lewis S. Teh –Editing by Jonathan Browne