Liberian Women and Kvinna till Kvinna Hold Symposium on Cultural Integrity
Monrovia – As a part of efforts to unite women in Liberia, Kvinna till Kvinna on Thursday, May 10, organized its 7th Consultative Meeting under the theme: “Integrity, Culture, and Diversity towards Strengthening Unity.” In attendance were more than a hundred women from both urban and rural Liberia as well as representatives from CBOs, CSOs, government agencies, NGOs, INGOs, marketers, members of the Traditional Council, entrepreneurs and young women’s organizations.
Report byBettie K. Johnson-Mbayo, [email protected]
This year’s meeting was colorful with most of the participants dressed in glamorous African prints, and the exhibition of locally made products, county flags, and greetings from the 16 tribes of Liberia.
The keynote speaker Fatu Gbedema said though strides have been made by women in Liberia, they should go farther by improving their skills, building intercultural competence and negotiation skills.
She added that Liberia is unable to fulfill its staffing quota in the United Nations, World Bank, IMF and other international organizations.
“Language competence is one barrier. Not English, French or Spanish-indigenous languages. If we can help our sisters learn an indigenous language, their chances of being placed on projects in countries and geographic locations that speak that language are increased,” Madam Gbedema said.
Madam Gbedema said one woman alone cannot change Liberia for it is women and children.
She said National healing doesn’t happen overnight adding that structures has to be put in place for equity in opportunity, education, access to land, health and wealth.
According to her, Liberia is diverse but one strategy is being used over and over in which the same results are produced, something she questions, “Isn’t it madness?”
“Liberia has to develop a diversity and cultural policy and law and implement it through public institutions, schools, private sectors, churches, mosques and businesses.
“We have to tell our story. We should encourage research and publish, reward best practice, give incentives, equip schools, teachers, educators, journalists, decision makers, leaders with cross cultural competence, diversity , TVET, special and inclusive education skills so that every child has an opportunity to develop to his or her fullest potential,” Fatu Gbedema said.
She said more women pay loans as compared to men, according to BRAC, but more men get loans than women, “If we have demonstrated over time that we are responsible and trustworthy, why do we get fewer loans that men and smaller amounts? As sisters united, we can lobby banks to look at lending diversity…. give money to women, who pay back loans, it is a win-win situation. So we have to turn the culture of patriarchy upside down through concrete actions.”
Welcoming participants, KtK Head of Office Rie Lukowski says it is a pleasure warmly welcoming all of the participants to the 7th consultative meeting.
According to her, unity is when people come together with other individuals or groups to form something greater than any of “us”. She says unity is often built around a common purpose-a harmony of interests or value that creates a shared identity
“We have women here today from all counties, and we are expected to get feedback from them, so it’s time that we stand together as one people, trust one another for development,” she said.