President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has acknowledged Kenya’s tremendous strides towards the empowerment of women that give them voice, equal participation, visibility, and access in all shades of life as it is imperative for Liberia to learn from the Kenyan model.
According to a dispatch from Nairobi, the Liberian President made the opening remarks as honored guest at an International Forum on Women in Business organized International Trade Center (ITC) and co-sponsored by the Government of Kenya and Kenya Association of Manufacturers.
President Sirleaf recounted nearly two decades of civil conflict that had plagued Liberia but noted that when she took the reins of leadership – the immediate focus was to put in place different fundamentals to accelerate the recovery and rebuilding processes.
She said in the composition of her Cabinet, the crucial positions of Finance, Justice and Foreign Affairs conventionally not held by women were filled by female appointees. She thanked the Kenyan people who through constitutional amendments have allotted 30 per cent of positions in government for women occupancy while at the same time enshrining in their constitution that the positions of Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security be occupied by women.
The Liberian leader said her administration has been able to make remarkable progress aimed at increasing the number of young girls’ school enrolment at the rate of 50 percent through a package that supports their stay in school. At the level of supporting women, especially those at the small scale ratio, she said her government is providing support to market women and farmers who she described as the backbone of a resiliently emerging economy.
Amid her administration’s determination to empower women, she informed the forum about the legislation of a Land Rights Bill, which will enable communities own, develop and sell land while at the same time position women for land ownership, which has not been the case.
The Liberian Chief Executive added that her government enacted the Small Business Act that provides that 25 percent of public procurement should be set aside for Liberian-owned businesses that are dominated by women.
She paid tribute to women in the face of numerous challenges they have to surmount as they cross various borders, travel to China, Dubai and other parts of the world in order to take their own destiny into their hands. She stressed the need for access to loans, skills transfer in managing their businesses; adding that technology remains critical towards the overall efforts to empower women.
President termed 2015 as a momentous year, which saw the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the related financing component and the landmark adoption of COP 21.
Meanwhile, President Sirleaf called for partnership if women are to make the kind of progress that will raise their level of empowerment and prepare them for the competitive world of the 21st century.