Govt, World Bank Sign Women Empowerment Project, and the COVID-19 Preparedness Program Second Financing Agreement
MONROVIA – The Government of Liberia and the World Bank have signed a Financing Agreement for the Liberia Women Empowerment Project and the Financing for the COVID-19 Emergency Response Project.
The Liberia Women Empowerment Project is for US$44.6 million of which US$17.8 million is an IDA Grant and US$26.8 million is IDA Credit.
Also, the second Additional Financing to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Project for US$9 million of which US$6.2 million is an IDA Grant and US$2.8 million is an IDA Credit.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, the World Bank Country Manager Dr. Khwima Nthara said women in Liberia have not shared equally in the dividends of peace since the end of the civil war.
The project, Dr. Nthara says, was originally scheduled for Board approval in September 2022. However, he said due to Finance Minister Samuel Tweah’s leadership and commitment, and hard work the Government and World Bank officials were able to accelerate the process, something that resulted in the project being approved on June 22, three months ahead of schedule.
“Large numbers of women have been excluded from the country’s economic development by persistently high gender disparities,” Dr. Nthara said.
Stats ranked Liberia 156th out of 162 countries on the 2019 Gender Inequality Index thus making Liberian women and girls disadvantaged in practically all spheres of society and throughout their lives.
“Women have fewer, less stable, and less lucrative job opportunities, and fewer choices. Social norms are a significant barrier to women’s empowerment, limiting women’s and girls’ ability to pursue economic opportunities and access quality social and livelihood services.”
“Gender-based Violence impacts women and girls across their entire life cycle. Studies have shown that nearly half (45.5 percent) of Liberian women have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence from a husband or partner in the past 12 months.
According to the World Bank Country Director, a study has shown that investing in women is a good development adding that it is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do from a development perspective.
“For example, if given a chance, women in business are more profitable, create more jobs, and are more effective,” he said.
Dr. Nthara added: “Indeed, in Liberia, a recent study that we conducted in 2020 entitled ‘Liberia Women Count’ showed that investing in women would increase Liberia’s GDP by between 10 percent and 50 percent.”
“Therefore, by approving this huge level of financing for the empowerment of women in Liberia, our board was convinced that the project will have a transformative impact on the country,” he said.
He furthers that the second additional financing to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Project seeks to consolidate the gains that Liberia has made in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
“So, this second additional financing seeks to support the development of additional vaccines to help vaccinate 70 percent of the Liberian population,” Dr. Nthara said.
Also speaking, the Minister of Finance Samuel Tweah praised the World Bank for its continued effort to transform Liberia’s postwar reconstruction.
According to the Minister, most times, when people hear about women’s empowerment they think about it as a mere political slogan.
“They can’t relate like the way they can relate to road construction or electricity. They always ask what women empowerment tends to do,” Minister Tweah said.
According to the Minister, the project will give meaning to women’s empowerment. This, he says women empowerment sits in the middle of the economy.
“So, maybe the best way to talk about the economy is, to begin with, women. If we want to reduce poverty in the world we should begin with women, they are the real drivers of the transformation. If they succeed, that success is sustainability, their household, and their community will succeed,” he said.
The Minister further called on implementing institutions of the government to work hard as the monetary and database that the project is contributing.
“One year from now, we want to know how it is impacting girls’ education, how it is affecting livelihood in different communities,” Minister Tweah said.