Liberia's Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr on Friday, October 15, 2021 delivered a keynote address in Gbarnga City, Bong County at a program marking the observance of the International Day of Rural Women.
In 2007, the United Nations general assembly set aside October 15 to be observed every year as International Day of Rural Women. According to the UN, the day focuses on gender equality and empowering women in rural areas. It recognises the critical role and contribution of rural women in agricultural and rural development.
Delivering the keynote address, Minister Tarr told the women she is aware that the challenges faced by women living in rural areas are real. The challenges includes land ownership, the threat of falling victims to sexual and gender based violence, risk of losing their business and being unable to feed their families.
"Mothers, sisters, brothers, friends, as a government - we are aware of the structural and social barriers which are depriving rural women their desired place in our society. Nevertheless, please rest assured that it was based on the many difficulties facing you, and President Weah’s desire to address them, that our government’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Development Prosperity (PAPD) was designed - an agenda which simply is intentionally, and purposefully -in the interest of the poor,” Minister Tarr stated.
The Gender Minister noted that she is also cognizant of the limited access to justice, health care, education, loans and business opportunities for such women.
"But your story is changing! With a son of a rural woman at the steering wheel of our sweet Liberia, we are seeing the well deserved changes coming for the Rural Woman! From ensuring Land Rights to ensuring a domestic violence bill exists, to providing micro loans specifically for Rural Women, to farming tools, to electricity, to clean water, to alleviating school fees burden, to ensuring we have voice and a place at the table - His Excellency George Manneh Weah is ensuring that the story is changing! So now that you have again made an ask to be placed in the national budget, rest assured that it is already in the works and you will be bringing that good news to the rural Women’s structure sooner than later!" Minister Saydee-Tarr asserted.
The Minister lauded the women for refusing to relinquish their resilience despite the challenges. According to her, rural women continue to uphold the crucial role of sustaining rural households and communities and upholding the dignity attached to rural livelihood. They continue to make significant contributions to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management and building climate resilience.
"Today, when you take look at development programs across the country, our government is building new roads, reconstruction of ports and the expansion of reliable and affordable electricity. This is because our President and Feminist-In-Chief Dr. George Manneh Weah insist that this government must change the living condition of the ordinary people," she stressed.
Madam Saydee-Tarr emphasised, "As we celebrate today, let’s go home with the knowledge that even in the face of limited opportunities, we have the responsibility to strive and take advantage of the stage set for us. The men of our days are not fighting to defeat us, but they are tirelessly trying to keep hold of the level of dominance they already have over us. So therefore, we have to stop crying. We have to take advantage of every little opportunity presented to us and look for more opportunities to take advantage of- so as to change our destiny. In our time, the future is now! Let’s take charge. Let’s prove that we can utilize the available opportunities to prove that we do not belong in the kitchens or other patriarchal roles assigned to our gender. Let’s prove that rather, we have a place at every table, a role to play in those spaces and, we are committed to it."
For her part, Madam Kebeh Monger - President of the National Rural Women of Liberia lauded the government of Liberia for annually allocating two million united states dollars as micro loan for rural women. Ma Kebeh believes that the loan will financially empower rural women. The Rural Women President thanked the Feminist-In-Chief for his unflinching support to rural women. She made a passionate appeal to the national government to include rural women in the national budget.
Ma Kebeh used the occasion to applaud Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr for being accessible and a people-centred Minister. "Whenever I call regardless of the hour she always answers and ready to address our concerns," Madam Monger lauded.
She intimated, "I stand with our mothers, our daughters, sons, and husbands who have seen the need to create a healthy and free environment for women and girls within our society. Despite the challenges we face, we will get there."
Also speaking at the occasion was Bong County Superintendent Hon Esther Walker. Hon Walker lauded the National Rural Women of Liberia and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection for commemorating the International Day of Rural Women.