Op-Ed – International Women’s Day 2024 Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress for Liberia's Future

By Comfort Lamptey, UN Women Liberia, Country Representative.


Op-Ed – International Women’s Day 2024 Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress for Liberia's Future By Comfort Lamptey, UN Women Liberia, Country Representative

Monrovia, 7 March, 2024

In Liberia, as in many parts of the world, women face challenges related to poverty and continue to face numerous barriers to full economic and political participation and empowerment. Over half of Liberia’s  population (51 percent) live below the national poverty line, according to a World Bank report.. In 2021, Liberia ranked 164 out of 191 on the Gender Inequality Index.

Limited access to education, healthcare, economic opportunities including a lack of access to credit and banking services,  limited social protections, and insecure access to land, along with persistent gender stereotypes and discriminatory cultural practices, continue to block women from reaching their full potential.

Although most Liberian women engage in wage labor or work informally, they remain responsible for the bulk of care work – which remains undervalued and unrecognized, despite the essential nature of this work – and its immeasurable contribution to the formal economy.

By closing existing gaps in care work and expanding decent work opportunities, and prioritizing gender-responsive financing, the full potential of women and girls can be unlocked to drive sustainable development and prosperity for all.

Recognizing the need to accelerate the slow progress on gender equality as well as the growing evidence base that demonstrates the transformative impact of gender responsive financing, the global theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is, ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress,’ and the national theme is ‘Empower Her, Empower All'.

Gender responsive budgeting and planning has been upheld globally and in Africa as a tool to target development interventions to meet the diverse needs of women and men, boys and girls. The Government of Liberia has made important investments in recent years to promote gender equality through initiatives such as the Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting Unit at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to ensure inclusive development planning and implementation, providing comprehensive gender analysis to address gaps across all sectors. Several ministries have also established gender and social inclusion units, which need to be capacitated to be effective in addressing inequalities in the delivery of public goods and services.  Similarly, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection needs to be adequately funded to effectively deliver on its gender coordination and monitoring mandate.

Investing in women is essential for crafting transformative solutions that empower women to claim their rights, break free from the cycle of poverty, and flourish. When women are economically empowered, entire communities thrive, and economies grow.

Liberia has an abundance of women’s rights organisations that do incredible work in the areas of women’s economic empowerment, gender-based violence prevention and response, women’s political participation and leadership, sexual and reproductive health and rights, amongst others. Despite the significant contributions to Liberia’s development, they are not adequately funded.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is a Call to Action for all stakeholders to invest in these women’s rights organisations that are at the forefront of providing crucial services, fighting discrimination and violence, contributing to economic growth and prosperity in Liberia.

UN Women remains committed to collaborating with partners to support Liberia on this path, by providing technical resources to ensure that policies, plans, programs, and budgets are gender-responsive. This includes working closely with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection and the national Legislature to mainstream gender priorities at both national and subnational levels.

Actualising the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day in Liberia will require a prioritization of gender-responsive financing and increased public spending on essential services and social protection, as well as investments in women and women led organisations to accelerate progress.

This International Women’s Day, let us recognize the invaluable contributions of women to Liberia's past, present, and future, and commit to removing the barriers that hold them back. Together, we can build a Liberia where every woman and girl has the opportunity to fulfill her potential and contribute to the nation's development. Investing in women isn't just about empowering individuals; it's about building a more just, prosperous, and sustainable future for Liberia and the world. Happy International Women’s Day 2024.