The Inquirer (Monrovia)

26 November 2012

Africa: WIPSEN-Africa Receives U.S.$81,000

About 50 young girls are expected to benefit from over US$81,000 grant agreement signed with the Women Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN) and Chevron-Liberia for the implementation of an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and leadership skills training program that would lead to job placement.

WIPSEN-Africa is a pan African Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that seeks to enhance women holistic participation in peace and security governance in Africa. The organization targets three areas, namely: rural women peace and security initiative, gender and security sector reform and youth security and development.

At the signing ceremony during the weekend at the S.K.D Sports Complex in Paynesville, WIPSEN-Africa Executive Director Ms. Leymah Gbowee said the organization was pleased to continue its capacity building efforts for girls in Liberia and is committed to building the potential of students in ICT to better prepare them for the job market.

Ms. Gbowee told reporters that the grant provided by Chevron will ensure the installation of high speed internet and other software to ensure the full functioning of the WIPSEN- Africa ICT center situated at the sports complex. She said the center was set with equipment worth over US$100,000 including door to door shipment by HP and furnish by the Ministry of State.

Leymah Gbowee, also a 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner outlined the project's objectives as saying; it would provide access to technology skills training, foster a work culture among Liberian youths and increase exposure to employment opportunities by empowering the youths and providing direct opportunities for participants to explore current and emerging job opportunities.

She said the participants will come from public high schools because more than 95% of students graduating from public schools do not have the opportunity to use a computer in their classrooms or elsewhere. The primary target group is 50 youths per year over an anticipated 3-year period.

When asked why the program is targeted to only women, Ms. Gbowee indicated the focus of the program is on young women because as social assessments have shown young women in Liberia are more likely to end up in market stalls and serve as maids after completion of high school unlike their male counterparts who face less social hindrances such as family pressure, pregnancy and sexual exploitation.

Ms. Gbowee lauded Chevron for the confidence given them to manage the grant and assured the company that WIPSEN-Africa will make every dollar accountable for.

For his part, the Supply Chain Manager of Chevron Mr. Richard Weaver said with the Women Peace and Security Network-Africa and Chevron-Liberia forms a partnership that will enhance the computer capability and skills of over 50 young women.

He said the program also incorporates other life skills training including mentoring, public speaking, resume writing and interview techniques that will be vital in leading the way to success for its beneficiaries.

According to Mr. Weaver, a survey conducted by iEARN-Liberia reveals over 90% of Liberian students are not computer literate or have no access to computers making them less competitive on the job market and unattractive to employers who require applicants for jobs to have basic computer knowledge. But he said what is unique about the program is that it closes the gap that exists between acquiring skills and applying what is learnt.

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