President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said the educating and empowering of women in Liberia was a guaranteed way of ensuring that Liberia never returns to the dark days of conflict and chaos.
She made the assertion when she made keynote remarks last Friday during the Graduation Ceremony of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Project held at the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex.
Twenty-six women received certificates for the skills acquired in business and management-related education.
She thanked the Goldman Sachs Foundation and its program implementer, CHF International, for the initiative, which she said would benefit 10,000 underserved women around the globe with 265 coming from Liberia.
The President disclosed that just as 26 Liberians were being certificated for their achievements, 42 others who had enrolled, were beginning their courses of study.
She said the empowerment of Liberian women went to the heart of the nation's reconciliation and empowerment processes because being vulnerable, the civil conflict hit them the hardest.
Therefore, she noted that educating and empowering women was an important way of ensuring a stable future with families that have the relevant skills to build a stronger society.
“We know that investing in women yields the biggest dividends in any country's development. It benefits the entire community because when you improve a girl's life, she can help her parents, siblings, and especially her own family when she is ready to have one,” the President said, leaving observers to wonder whether she was not overselling a good idea.
The President reiterated her administration's commitment to the development of the capital resources of the nation, noting that an empowered citizenry was more valuable than all the wealth hidden in the soil of Liberia.
“In 2008, I signed Liberia up to participate in the Economic Empowerment of Adolescent Girls and Young Women, a World Bank pilot project under its global Adolescent Girls' Initiative (AGI), and in partnership with the Nike Foundation. As President, and as a woman, I knew that any program aimed at empowering girls and young women had to be in Liberia's best interest. The EPAG project has improved the lives of over 2,500 Liberian women and girls,” she revealed.
She did not say in what areas where the women's life improved, but she said the effort dovetailed with the Promotion of Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment, which is the third goal of the Millennium Development Goals.
She recalled that as the result of the achievement, the UN named Liberia's National Plan of Action on Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security winner of this year's prestigious Millennium Development Goal Three Award.
“We were recognized for outstanding leadership, commitment, and progress toward the achievement of MDG-3 through the promotion of gender equality and women's empowerment across the country. We should take pride in that achievement, and use it to spur ourselves towards better things,” she said.
President Sirleaf said her administration was building upon this international recognition in efforts to bridge the existing gap between project planning, project implementation, and project outcome, which she said was a major problem in most Liberian projects and business establishments.
“It is still too cumbersome to start a business in Liberia, and we are working to change that. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry is putting the finishing touches to a new industrial policy to develop micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises. We want to do everything we can to stimulate business growth, especially businesses with several or more employees, which can take advantage of scale and experience,” the President said.