Margibi, Liberia - The UN Envoy in Liberia, Alan Doss, joined by Margibi County Superintendent, Levi Piah, on Thursday commissioned the newly-constructed Women's Skills Training Centre, at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) Village, about 12 kilometers outside Monrovia. Its construction was made possible through funding from UNMIL's Quick Impact Projects (QIP) programme.
"Experience around the world has shown that when women participate fully in national societies, those countries do much better," said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) as he stressed the importance of women's participation in society. He added, "We have to ensure that that the women of Liberia have the training and skills to make the most of their abilities." The SRSG cited President Johnson Sirleaf as a role model for women, underscoring the difference she was making in Liberian society.
OSIWA Liberia Program Officer, Mr. Joe Pemagbi, in his remarks, noted that discrimination against women was a challenge. "But the trend is gradually changing in Liberia since the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-led Government came into being with so many women in key positions in this country," he observed. Also present at the ceremony were UNMIL's Senior Gender Advisor, Mrs. Joana Foster, and Deputy Education Minister of Liberia, Ms. Hawah Goll-Kotchi. The OSIWA Village Women Skills Training Centre is run by Women Aid, Inc., a local non-governmental organization, and offers skills training, adult literacy and accelerated learning programmes for women. It also provides temporary shelter for abused women.
At a separate event later in the day, the UN Envoy handed over a newly-rehabilitated police station to the authorities in Salala, Bong County, to be used by the Liberia National Police (LNP) as a district headquarters.
During the ceremony, which was also attended by Liberia's Inspector-General of Police Beatrice Munah Sieh, Mr. Doss emphasized the need for a secure national environment to attract and retain investment in Liberia. "A good police force is necessary for economic development," he added.
Mr. Doss announced that UNMIL's target for the recruitment and training of 3,500 police should be reached by July, but he acknowledged that equipment and other resources were needed for a more effective police presence across all of Liberia. The Salala Police Station was also renovated with QIP funding and furniture was donated by UNMIL's Gambian police contingent based in the area.
The local traditional leaders also took the opportunity during the vibrant ceremony to gown Mr. Doss and the LNP Inspector-General. The Bong County Superintendent, Ranney Jackson was present at the ceremony together with local dignitaries.
The SRSG also used the opportunity to visit the nearby medical outreach clinic operated by the Bangladeshi military contingent, BANBATT 13, which treats residents in the area.