MONROVIA-The Program Manager of the Rural Integrated Center for Community Empowerment (RICCE), Madam Renee N. Gibson has urged officials and members of the Western Region Women Network (WERWONA) to do sustained advocacies for women and girls and other disadvantaged groups in the western part of Liberia.
WERWONA is a conglomeration of over 60 women advocacy organizations in the western region comprising Bomi, Gbarpolu and Grand Cape Mount Counties.
As part of the Green Livelihoods Alliance 2.0 country program being implemented in Liberia, women are being trained and organized into structures in the western and southern regions of Liberia as a means of strengthening them [women] to speak against injustices and social/societal norms that are adversely affecting them especially in the forestry sector.
The Rural Integrated Center for Community Empowerment (RICCE) is hired by the Global Forest Coalition as the Gender Technical organization on the GLA 2.0 Forest for a just future program.
Speaking recently in Tubmanburg, Bomi County during a two-day regional annual learning and experience sharing events with women groups engage in land & human rights advocacy in the western region, Madam Gibson urged the women to collaborate and strengthen their advocacies in concession areas in the region.
Madam Gibson encouraged the women to support each other by cultivating values that promote group solidarity and cohesion including mutual respect, transparency, honesty, peace and speaking truth to power if they must remain relevant in their advocacy for gender just forest governance.
She cautioned the women to remain focus on their goal and avoid political engagement which has the propensity to weaken their advocacy as we approach the general and presidential elections come 2023.
The RICCE Program Manager said “As women, we need to support each other, ensure the group continues and remains together and we must use this platform to strengthen our advocacy in the region because collective actions have bigger impact than individual actions.”
She also called on them to coordinate their activities and network across the three counties.
As the Gender Technical partner to the GLA 2.0 Forest for a just future program, Madam Gibson said “We see big opportunity and transformation in the lives of women and girls through this platform; we, the GLA partners led by the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) will continue to work with you and support you to advocate for women inclusion in decision making spaces and push for increment in the number of women on some of the Natural Resource management structures they have been excluded from, minimize the abuses and exploitation that are taking place around concession areas in the region.”
Speaking on the formation of the women organization by the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), the lead for the GLA 2.0 program, Madam Gibson said the establishment is a great step in the fight against inequality and making the forest sector very transparent or gender responsive.
“I am happy because our participation in these activities helps to strengthen our collaboration. We want to assure all GLA partners of our fullest support in implementing the gender related activities of the project and many thanks to the SDI,” for the innovation to establish this regional women network.
“RICCE had earlier setup the Bomi women advocacy group that is also part of this Western Region women network. We challenge you not to just focus on rape although rape is key, but there are so many issues with the concession companies; look at Western Cluster, Mano Oil, the issue of exploitation is on the increase in the region and with presence of Western Cluster will further exacerbate the situation. There is influx of aliens and foreigners which has huge potential for gender base violence; the women network should also look at agreements of those companies and advocate for compliance
At the same time, Madam Gibson has also urged the women to look at Benefits for women because they are directly affected by the concession and their livelihoods are serious at risk with no sustainable livelihood options which renders women girls within affected communities of the concessions vulnerable. Concluding at the launch, Madam Gibson urged the women to avoid politics in their advocacies, according to her, doing so will allow politicians to use them and weaken women advocacy in the region.