Employment creation is often considered a crucial solution strategy to Liberia’s multi-faceted socio-economic challenges including sexual and gender based violence against women and girls.
However, the lack of training in priority growth areas including business/entrepreneur skills that meet the needs of the market is a major obstacle to job creation for disadvantage youth, women and underserved communities.
One of Liberia’s demand-driven skills training Non-Governmental Organization that offers high quality integrated hands-on job skills training programs for at-risk youth and women in Liberia is the Community Empowerment Program (CEP). CEP with support from the Department of State, Global Women Peace and Security Initiative (DOD-GWPSI), Washington DC, USA graduated 121 at-high risk women and youth, mainly adolescent girls from two separate six-month skills training initiatives in food preservation (fish and meat) and computer literacy integrated with adult/business-specific literacy, life skills, and basic small business management on Friday, July 11, 2014. Held at the Calvary Temple Assembly of God Church, Jacob Town, Paynesville, the graduation exercise comprising phase-one of the skills training program was attended by more than 250 community members.
Government officials, representatives from International and national Non-Governmental Organizations key among whom were the Ministry of Labor, the gender office of the United Nation Mission in Liberia, the United National Population Fund (UNFPA), the Japan International Development Agency (JICA), including a representative from the office of the Honorable Sekou Kanneh, representative of District Number two, Montserrado County graced the occasion. Community leaders from the Chicken Soup Factory and Jacob Town communities including other relevant stakeholders were also present during the program.
The guest speaker, Mrs. Rosanna Shaack, Executive Director for Touching Humanity In need of Kindness (THINK), a Liberian Local NGO urged the graduates to use their nearly-acquired skills to create wealth for themselves, transform their own lives, make meaningful contribution to their families, their communities, and confront all forms of sexual and gender based violence meted against them and in their communities as well.
Recounting the major achievements of phase-one of the GWPSI-Supported Project, Madam Lucy W. Page, Founder/Executive Director of CEP pointed out that the organization with support from GWPSI, its donorreached 351 direct beneficiaries during phase one including people living with disabilities. These were:
180 local, religious, and traditional leaders were informed on the rape and inheritance laws of Liberia; of this number nine of them reported to CEP through telecommunication that they had intervened in cases of physical domestic violence including “wife beating;”
51 at-risk women were identified and trained in Food Preservation integrated with life skills education, Adult Literacy and Basic Business Management Training. Ending skills assessments showed that 88 percent of the trainees demonstrated a change in their knowledge, attitude and skill level in the courses covered;
70 adolescents, mainly girls were trained in computer literacy integrated with life skills education to be followed by the provision of start-up kits with support to 25 of the graduates with high averages to set up their own commercial computer typing businesses; and
25 men each were trained in two communities and established into Men’s GBV Palava Prevention forums.
Community leaders from three surrounding communities to Jacob Town including one far apart community requested CEP to conduct similar program within their communities which they considered largely underserved and needing such crucial skills training program for the empowerment of at-risk women and adolescents, mainly girls residents of their localities.