Liberian First Lady, Clar Marie Weah has reminded ECOWAS Parliamentarians convening in Monrovia of critical issues affecting women and girls across the sub-region, craving the regional parliamentary body’s utmost attention to find lasting solutions.
Mrs. Weah named the increased wave of sexual gender based-violence (SGBV), female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage, teenage pregnancy and limited access to sexual and reproductive health rights among others.
“Sadly it must be said that even where there has been progress in peace-building and security across member states, over the last ten decades, this has not been translated into actions to eliminate violence against women and girls,” the First Lady asserted.
Mrs. Weah was speaking on Tuesday, April 13, 2021, during the opening ceremonies of the 5th ECOWAS Parliament’s delocalized meeting of the joint committee on Social Affairs, Gender and Women Empowerment; Education; Science and Culture; and Health at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town.
The five-day sitting of the parliamentary joint committee which attracted a host of high profile personalities including President George Weah, members of the 54th legislature, and prominent women, is being convened under the theme: “Empowerment of Women in ECOWAS Region.”
According to the Liberian First Lady, the meeting’s theme was indicative of the need for a common approach to ensuring that no girl or woman in the region is deprived of any opportunity on the basis of her gender.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Weah has also admonished participants of the ongoing meeting to ensure that their deliberations and quest for women and girls empowerment be inclusive of all women instead of a few groups.
“The broad scope of the theme on empowerment of women in the ECOWAS region, speaks of the lofty goals and targets that we all need to set our eyes on over the coming days of talks, discussions and deliberations,” said Mrs. Weah.
She continued: “We should not just be discussing about the empowerment or elevation of a certain class of the women folk in ECOWAS, or women in politics, public space or the private sector; we should not just be talking about women in business or in boardrooms, we should be talking about all women, of all races and from all walks of life.
“Across every sector and in every corner of our region, we are here to talk about taking serious steps to ensure that every woman and every female in our region has access to all that she needs to ensure that she fulfils her potential and contributes to the development of her society.”
Mrs. Weah, however, praised ECOWAS and others for the frantic efforts toward guaranteeing gender equality, access to education for the girl-child and better health facilities for women.
Sher also assured the President George Weah-led Government’s unequivocal commitment and support to the promotion of women empowerment and the protection of their rights, citing significant strides in tackling rape and other forms of violence towards women and girls.
The First Lady of the Republic of Liberia further reaffirmed her commitment to true women empowerment, as she outlined numerous projects being undertaken to that effect through her personal initiative, the Clar Hope Foundation.
Established in June 2018 with the vision of creating an equitable society in Liberia, by restoring the hope of disadvantaged children, youth and women through education, health and other opportunities to better their lives, Clar Hope Foundation operates on four pillars – health, education, gender equality and economic empowerment.
The ongoing sitting of the ECOWAS Parliamentary joint committee marks the third events hosted in Liberia since September 2019.
For this, Mrs. Weah has expressed profound gratitude on behalf of the people of Liberia, to the ECOWAS parliament for selecting Monrovia, for its delocalized meeting.
Considering Liberia’s record of producing great female leaders including the likes of Angie Brooks Randall – the First female President of the UN General Assembly and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female democratically elected president among others, Mrs. Weah was confident that the meeting was in the right place at the right time.
“I wish to state that you will not find a larger selection of experts in the sub-region who can assist in generating qualitative discussions on the subject-matter than in Liberia. As Africa’s oldest Republic, Liberia has always placed a high value on the pursuit of good governance of the people which includes achieving parity in all facet of life.”
Also speaking, the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Rt. Honorable Sidie Mohamed Tunis and House Speaker Dr. Bhofal Chambers both pledged their commitment to the advancement of women and girls on the continent.