Weala, Margibi County - It was a joyous day for women of Weala in Margibi County on Saturday, March 24 when they received a high-powered delegation headed by the Swedish Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations and Chairman of the UN Peace Building Commission in Liberia, Olof Skoog.
Ambassador Skoog, who was accompanied by officials of UN Women, UNMIL and the Government of Liberia including Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Lewis Brown had gone to get a first-hand experience on how rural women are benefiting from the Peace Hut project.
The Peace Hut Project is supported by UN Women and hosts of other partners including the Governments of Liberia, Sweden and UNMIL among others.
It is a community driven structure created by the various women-based organizations who had led the mass action for peace in Liberia during the civil war.
It is aimed at empowering women and providing them with a space in which their voices could be heard on priority issues including the reconciliation and peacebuilding processes, addressing their specific security needs regarding sexual and gender-based violence and economic empowerment.
At an interactive forum at the Weala Peace Hut, the women thanked UN Women and partners for the numerous supports over the years and admitted that the project is positively impacting their lives.
Sharing her success story, a delighted Hawa Kango explained that with the trainings acquired and through the village saving project, she started her business with just LD$500.00 (less than US$5.00) in 2016 and now her business has expanded and is operating a shop.
“With the L$500.00 from the village saving, I started to sell peanuts on my head. From there, I added plantain and other small things.”
“By the grace of God, the LD$500.00 I started my business with in 2016, today I have a shop. And from that US$500.00, today my husband and I can pay our children’s school fees and take care of our family.”
“Today I can proudly say that I am self-employed. I named my business Surprise Business Center because I came from nowhere to somewhere,” she narrated.
Fatu Coleman, Chairperson of the Women Peace Hut Project.
“The village saving is helping a lot. We use the money to support our children, pay their school fees and provide other important needs.”
In brief remarks, Ambassador Skoog said he was impressed with the level of progress the women have made in promoting peace and pledged Sweden and the UN’s commitments toward the Peace Hut project.
“I am very happy and proud that my country Sweden is supporting you and I want you to know that we will continue to be here with you, the United Nations is here with you and I feel very good about Liberia’s future when I see all of you,” he noted.
Ramon Garway, UN Women Program Manager for Women’s Economic Empowerment told the visiting guests that the women through the support of UN Women, civil society groups and the Government of Liberia are now playing a key role in ending violence against women including domestic violence gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse as well as involving in economic empowerment.
For her part, Margibi County’s Gender Coordinator, Danilette D. Asilton called for more support to women empowerment, adding that for nation to be empowered, women must be empowered.
“To the Swedish Embassy, to UN Women, Ambassador Brown, when you go out, please say more about women of Margibi County and Liberia at large,” she urged.