Liberia: Medica Liberia Begins Training of 200 Grassroots Women's Rights Advocates

medica Liberia (mL) in an effort to implement the Spotlight Initiative project supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), has 200 Grassroots Women's Rights Advocates beginning with Montserrado and Grand Cape Mount Counties.

The initiative aims to enhance women's participation in local governance processes as well as tackling issues that affect women in society.

The training, which targets five of Liberia's 15 counties; namely, Montserrado, Grand Cape Mount, Nimba, Lofa and Grand Gedeh, is geared to train 200 women's rights advocate.

The training seeks to afford women CSO leaders the opportunity to strengthen their understanding of the gender issues such as sexual and gender based violence (SGBV), Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and harmful practices (HP), while at the same time looking at their role in local governance processes in realization of the right to participation.

Under the project Title "Strengthening women's rights advocates capacities to support the integration of ending violence against women and girls into county development agenda targeting policymakers and other stakeholders. Medica Liberia conducted the training through UNDP as the contributing UN agency of the Spotlight Initiative, funded by European Union EU.

Giving an overview of the spotlight initiative project, the Program Coordinator of mL, Madam Musu Mulbah, explained that the project is intended to mainstream gender into the nation's development process with specific focus on SGBV, HP, SRHR and educate women on county development plans and processes.

Madam Mulbah pointed out that mL under the spotlight initiative project, will develop policies and plans and lay the groundwork for achieving gender equity and women and girls' empowerment in a bid to promote equitable access to resources and benefits.

"The spotlight project seeks to strengthen the capacity of 200 individuals representing gross roots women rights advocates to develop gender mainstreaming strategies and integrate ending violence against women into their development plans," said the mL Program Coordinator.

Among other things, medica Liberia through the spotlight initiatives will provide financial support or resources to eight women's rights groups to conduct activities geared towards mainstreaming gender the counties' development plans and processes.

Speaking to reporters following the two-day long training, Madam Finda Salay, Project Officer at the Women NGO Secretariat (WONGOSOL), described the training as an eye opener for women's advocates.

This, she indicated, will help to address issues that women are faced within the different counties.

"We talked about budget and we talked about women's participation at the community level. The issues of roads, education and the issues drugs abuse, which gives rise to rape were also highlighted," asserted the WONGOSOL official.

She noted that the involvement of women into local governance process will help to eradicate some of those negative vices in society, adding that the training will lead to increased women's involvement in the decision making process.

Madam Nusone Perkins, Communications Specialist at Community Health Initiative (CHI) says the training opens a new door for women's advocates to look at the different issues that affect women, especially issues that impede their economic and social freedom such as SGBV and HP.

"I have been invited to different workshops, but this one is outstanding - it's about gender mainstreaming and budgeting and things that are intended to promote women's economic freedom. It opens a new door for women's advocates," the young women's rights advocate pointed narrated.

Perkins vowed to share the lesson learned from the training with her peers at CHI for the greater good of the organization.

"When I go back, I will also be sharing the knowledge with my peers. Whatever training that we do we incorporate it into the work we do at CHI this one, I believe, will enhance the work further," she stated.

"This spotlight initiative training is in the best direction of societal growth and development because women's economic empowerment or freedom is important. Many contribute significantly to development, their inclusion and participation and at all levels should be prioritized," added the rights advocate.

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