Liberia: Women Group Wants Government Set-up Gender-Sensitive Programs Through County Social Development Funds

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Monrovia – The Women Coalition for County Development (WCCD) and the Center for Media Studies and Peace-building (CEMESP) have petitioned the Legislature to take concrete steps in reducing poverty among Liberian women and girls.

The group of women with representation in Bomi, Bong, Cape Mount, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Nimba and Montserrado Counties says the petition when implemented will benefit of all Liberian women from the 15 Sub-political divisions.

Presenting the petition, the Co-chair of WCCD Roseline Cassell said a survey commissioned by the Liberia Women Media Action Committee (LIWOMAC) reviewed that only 32 out of 381 or 8% of respondents confirmed that they knew about the County Social Development Funds (CSDF).

According to Madam Cassell, out of the 32 respondents who confirmed that they knew about the CSDF, only six indicated that the CSDF was having an impact in their communities.

The impact, she says is still not gender-sensitive adding that there has been little investment in market structures, hospitals, schools, and even playgrounds for children.

“We are seeking, through your good offices, commitment from the 54th Legislature to take concrete steps to reduce poverty among Liberian women and girls and their vulnerability to exploitation and abuse by setting gender-sensitive targets in development programs funded through County Social Development Funds (CSDF) and by ensuring that women have a voice and representation at all levels of developmental decision making within the financial sector,” Madam Cassell.

She added: “The baseline report also showed that the structure of CSDF governance and the process for selecting delegates to county council meetings impedes women’s participation and minimizes opportunities for gender equity.”

The Co-chair of WCCD furthers that the County and Social Development Fund standalone bill passed by the House of Representatives and sent to the Senate for a vote includes a 25 percent gender quota in favor of women.

“We want the 54th Legislature to review the bill thereby increasing the seats for women to 30 percent minimum quota in parallel to the Liberian new elections law which promotes women’s political participation and ensure resources are allocated for its implementation across the country,” she said.

“Funding for development programs under the CSDF must include allocations for women to provide financial aid for women to engage in small businesses, as a way to respond to the economic challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“To insure that of the three members that constitute the CSDF Project Management Committee (PMC), include at least one female in each county,” Madam Cassell added.

Receiving the petition, the Chair on the Committee on Gender Representative Rosana Schaack of Rivercess County District #1 promised to act on the petition as it is in her words intended to make women’s voices heard.

“As you know, there is a unit at the Ministry of Finance called Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting and they have done a survey to see how the budget -both the County Development and the Social benefit women,” Representative Schaack added.

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