LIBERIA: UNDP-Liberia Resident Representative underscores Need for Gender Balance At All Levels

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The United Nations Development Program Liberia Resident Representative, Louis Kuukpen, has underscored the need for gender balance at all levels in Liberia.

Mr. Kuukpen said women have played an incredible role in the restoration of Liberia’s peace which cannot be overly emphasized.

He made these remarks when he spoke at a one-day interactive session with suppliers and partners in Monrovia.

The one-day interactive dialogue was part of other activities organized by UNDP in observance of International Day of Women. It was, however, held under the theme: “Invest in Women Accelerate Progress.”

He then noted that in a country like Liberia, where half of its population are women, developmental progress cannot be made without addressing those issues that pertain to them.

The dialogue session sought to provide a platform for sharing best practices and serve as a beginning for UNDP to initiate discussion and collaborate efforts on gender equality initiatives.

However, the dialogue provided the basis for discussions which centered around exploring institutional policies regarding gender equality, sharing best practices lessons learned challenges and success stories and further identified opportunities for collaboration to accelerate programs on gender equality.

The event brought together participants from the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS), Ministry of Gender Children Social Protection (MoGCSP,) Venders, Women Voices Newspaper, Musu Corporation Official Ideas, Elite, Vivacious Consultancy and Techno IT.

Meanwhile, Helen Nah Sammie, Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of the Women Voices Newspaper, disclosed that one major challenge that they face is to find females who are passionate about gender reporting especially for the print media.

According to her, most females are interested in the electronic media (Radio).

“Another challenge is that the Liberian society is more attracted to political and sensational stories than human interest stories which the Women Voices mostly publishes,” she added.

“We have a workforce of 11 persons, including 4 reporters in Montserrado County, Editors, and 3 correspondents in Nimba, Bong, and Lofa. 46% of our workforce is females and 54% are males,” the publisher noted.

Madam Sammie maintained that the availability of very limited advertisement which is the Bedrock* that sustains the operations of every newspaper is a challenge.

This, she said; is very serious because the lack of funding compromises the independence of every media house.

Understandably, she believes that the Government is the biggest advertiser, but its refusal to advertise in the paper appears to be deliberate, something which she thinks is undermining the independence of the media.

Madam Sammie said: “What is more concerning is to have the International Organizations such as the UN system, joining the government perhaps willfully undermines the independent media by advertising on the Executive Mansion website instead of the newspapers.”
‘‘Over the years, our existence has reflected greatly on the Liberian society, especially women and children. The institution has used its platform to call government and stakeholders attention to issues of violence against women and in most instances, survivors of different forms of violence that we have worked with have gotten justice, through our advocacy role in daily news and editorials. Women’s political participation in different elections, we have used our platform to stress the need for women’s political participation.’’

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