The Ministry of Gender Children Social Protection with funding from the World Bank has for the first time launched the Girls Ebola Recovery Livelihood Support or (GERLS) project in the country. The project will benefit 200 adolescent girls and young women in the three counties including Montserrado, Margibi, and Grand Bassa that are interested in improving and expanding their businesses.
One hundred girls and young women who are alumni of the empowerment project for adolescent girls (EPAG), while the other 1,000 will be the batch of EVD affected girls and young women.
The GERLS project will provide life and business skills training, as well as cash grants to support the re-generation of expansion of businesses of targeted adolescent girls and young women and will provide mentoring to beneficiaries to guide the growth of their businesses.
Delivering the keynote address at the launch of the project on Tuesday April 11, 2017 in Monrovia, foreign Minister Marjon V. Kamara said it is widely acknowledged that full utilization of all of the potentials of women is critical to national development.
According to Ambassador, the challenge of empowerment for transformation must therefore be addressed forthrightly with today's girls and young women. Kamara noted that the GERLS project presents an opportunity to continue process of shaping and equipping the next generation of leaders of Liberia saying "all who form part of this coalition for girl's empowerment must be commended as it is the beginning of a process that will also in time touch the lives of young women in other counties, a seed that will eventually sprout in all fifteen counties of our country.
She explained that while there are compelling arguments for gender equality to ensure social, political, and economic stability, government should shine its eyes on some practical benefits of investing in women.
Kamara advises girls and young women selected in the three counties to be the pioneers to utilize the opportunities being afforded them under the project. "Through this assistance, you assume some accountability and responsibility for success. You are being given a second chance to recover from the disastrous impact of the Ebola virus; to sharp or reshape your destiny to become productive members of society and champions of the rights of girls and young women", she further.
She stressed the need for the girls to strive to make positive impact in the lives of their family and community. In addition, the Minister of Gender Children Social Protection, Julia Duncan Cassell said the ministry is delighted to collaborate with the World Bank group, and the Liberia country office in the launch of the GERLS project.
She affirmed that it is an important milestone as it is one of the government response programs to reduce suffering caused by the debilitating effects of EVD on the economy.
Cassell indicated that the project aims at providing life and business skills training to support the re-entry and participation of targeted adolescent girls into the labor market.
She mentioned that the program will provide income support to adolescent girls who have lost their livelihoods as a result of the EVD crisis in Liberia. The Gender Minister explained that it is important to focus on adolescent girls because during the EVD crisis in 2014, the MGCSP conducted a telephone call campaign among ,080 EPAG Which Was Intended to Assess Girls well-being and to let them know that the Ministry was concerned about them. The West African Ebola virus disease crisis has been describing as the biggest outbreath in history.
In addition, the project manager of the GERLS project, Vivian Neejay Innis stated the need to eliminate the culture of dependency by investing in adolescent's girls through livelihood support and business skills something that will help in Liberia's reform process.
She narrated that women in Liberia constitute a huge portion of the population therefore their inclusion in economic development lies at the heart of sustainable development in every way conceivable, but realizing this goal fundamentally depends on realizing economic rights and also looking at sustainability in national context which requires transformation power relations and structural inequalities in different sectors of the economy.
Neejay further emphasized that the project will support the ultimate goal of strengthening the country's safety net system and its ability to respond to shocks and increasing the resilience of poor households that have been adversely affected by EVD outbreak, as well as promoting inclusive economic growth in Liberia.
The world health organization reported 24,282 cumulative cases by early march 2015. Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia have accounted for nearly all 99.8 percent EVD cases.
Liberia reported about 38.5 percent of the cumulative cases in the region, according to WHO 2015 report. The Ministry of Health had reported 9,800 cumulative cases, with a case fatality rate of 44.2 percent of the GERLS.
The African Development Bank (AFDB) has established that women constitute 50 percent of agriculture labor force in sub-Sahara Africa and contribute immensely to food security on continent.
For example, Ethiopia is the largest producer of coffee in Africa and women make up 75 percent of the coffee industry which gives them control over 43 percent of the revenue. Injection of cash in women owned businesses is a moral imperative to improve the quality of life in Africa, particularly in Ebola affected countries.