Liberia: Women Trained By COPDA Ready for Advocacy

-Gear Up To Do Advocacy For Basic Social Services In Concession Areas

Women trained by a nongovernmental organization, Committee for Peace and Development Advocacy (COPDA) in Nimba County have organized themselves into a right group to advocate for basic social services and better living conditions in their communities.

The women group comprised of eight communities under the banner "Community Development Management Committee" (CDMC). Appearing on a local radio station talkshow in Sanniquellie recently, the Chairlady, Co-Chair and Assistant Secretary General of the CDMC said the group will use a constructive method of advocacy through engagement with stakeholders.

Madam Hellen Weanquoi, Oretha Nah and Alice Cole intoned that over the years, advocacy have largely been restricted to men alone, thereby keeping the women at the back in term of decision making. They said since the formation of the Community Development Management Committee in 2017, they have been in constant communication with the management of Arcelormittal Liberia and relevant Stakeholders to address problems facing Communities in the AML Concession areas and at the same time pledging their unflinching commitment to constructive advocacy.

Madam Hellen Weanquoi hails from Zolowee Town while Oretha Nah and Alice Cole hail from Sehyi Geh and Camp-4 Towns respectively, all directly affected by the world giant steel company's operation. The Mines affected women are being trained by the Yekepa-based Local non-governmental organization and civil society advocacy group "Committee for Peace and Development Advocacy" (COPDA).

Recently, COPDA concluded a one day consultative meeting with the women group in Yekepa to provide them guidance as they embark on their advocacy. Presenting at the meeting, AML Liberia Livelihood Officer assigned in Yekepa Edmund Saye Gbah encouraged the women to adopt a system of networking as an essential component in their endeavors.

He indicated that most institutions have vanished because their leaders failed to coordinate their affairs under a simple networking manner. Gbah said networking strengthens unity and enhance co-existence especially for aspirating and promising advocates.

For his part, the Coordinator of the Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) in Yekepa, Nimba County Tiffeneh Taryon called on the mines affected communities' women to have a set goal. Mr. Taryon told them that an organization that does not operate with a set goal sometimes fine it difficult to achieve its objective.

According to him, a plan can be easily implemented, if members of the organization collectively work together. The Committee for Peace and Development Advocacy (COPDA) on June 11, 2019 launched the promoting human rights and accountability in mines affected communities project aimed at building the capacity of those mines affected community women to have their voices heard.

The Executive Director of COPDA Ted Brooks disclosed that once empowered, the women will be cognizance about the basis of what they want to achieve, saying COPDA remains available to aid their work.

Arcelormittal Liberia suffered a major damage in July 2014, when angry citizens storm its mining facility at Torkadeh in Nimba County and destroyed several thousand worth of properties, something the CDMC women have vowed will never reoccur under their watch during the period of their advocacy.

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