As part of efforts to unite women in Liberia, Kvinna till Kvinna’s in collaboration with UNMIL Gender Affairs Office has held its 4th Consultative Meeting under the theme: ‘’Unity of women in Liberia, roles and cultural consideration.’’
More than 100 women from both urban and rural Liberia attended the forum recently, including representatives of CBOs, CSOs, government agencies, NGOs, INGOs, marketers, traditional council, entrepreneurs and young women’s organizations.
This year’s meeting was the biggest and most colorful since its inception in April 2015. Participants exhibited locally made products, county flags and greetings from 16 tribes of Liberia.
Guest speaker, Mr. Prosper NiiNorteyAddo, Officer- In- Charge of the African Union Laison office in Liberia said meetings had been held in promoting women’s unity – a step in the right direction, adding that culture which is way of life of a people plays many roles – positive as well as negative.
“When actions are taken in the name of culture causing pain, such actions should be done away with through transformation. Culture is the tool to bring national unity and thus, women’s unity. Positive cultural trends reflected in shared beliefs will promote unity and women’s empowerment. Focus must therefore be put on male counterparts, who form part of the problem and thus, solution as equal partners,” Mr. Addo said.
He stressed that there must be recognition of different backgrounds and society as there is unity in diversity, adding this then leads to acceptance towards what you want to do to help people.
Mr. Addo admonishes women actors and stakeholders to talk to others so all will have understanding and sensitization. “Culture evolves and as it does, the positive side must be upheld.”
The Country Representative of KtK Office in Liberia, RieLukowski stressed that the positive practice of Culture is significant in maintaining peace and unity.
However harmful traditional practices she said must be eradicated for the good of humankind. “The energy of culture will be used to unite women and the entire nation.”
Also, the need for strong values to be maintained regardless of the changing times and how such values should be passed on to the young generation was stressed. Rie called on the women of Liberia to use culture in order to unite themselves and the entire nation, asserting that if the women of Liberia could unite to stop the war and Ebola, then they can indeed unite to help address all issues that concern them.
James M. Muriithi of UNMIL Gender Affairs Office stressed the need for inter-generational chain – how the young is benefiting from the old. Women must ensure they talk with a strong voice to advance the work of NGOs. Planned advocacy should consider UNMIL and GOL transition, he added.
Mr. Muriithi further advised that as women do affirmative action advocacy, care must be taken not to forget political participation.
The President of the National Rural Women of Liberia, Ma Kebbeh Monger echoed the need for respect among women, both rural and urban alike. A representative of the Traditional Council Alice S. Cooper said the Council should be regularly involved in such events in order to add its voice to issues confronting women across the country.
The president of Young Liberian Women Organization for Improvement Kona S. Kollie spoke of the need for older and younger generation to work together.
The Kvinna till Kvinna Communication Officer, Adelaide Laryea one of the panelist, said if indeed ‘the love of liberty brought us here’ then we can show our liberty by showing love, trust and unity amongst one another. Adelaide further called on all to reflect on what Liberia used to be back in the days and how Liberia impacted her sister countries.
To crown it all, mother Mary N. Brownell, a Legend and role model stressed the need to follow the basic principles of various religions which admonish Liberians to love, leading to unity. “Be more empathetic, be each other’s keeper, put words into practice and train children to respect and thus be relevant to their communities”, she urged.
Mother Mary admonished all female aspirants to take cue from the just-ended American elections and be cautious of their actions, saying, “Remember whatever you do down the road of life, will hunt you later on in life more so as a woman.”