MRU Forum Calls For More Int’l Partnership…Minister Cassell Stresses Need For Consolidated Response

A one-day Stakeholders Consultation on the Mano River Union (MRU) First Ladies Initiatives on the MRU’s Social Investment Fund for Women’s Economic Empowerment-Post Ebola Response has been held in Monrovia with a call for a stronger international and national partnership to combat the Ebola Virus Disease.

The objective of the high-level gathering was to ensure harmonized and consistent approaches towards their joint responses, initiatives and activities relating to gender dimensions of the fight against the Ebola Virus; its impact on women, children, the family and society as a whole.

Liberia’s Minister of Gender and Development, Madam Julia Duncan-Cassell delivering an open remark on the importance of the one-day event, recognized the need to have a more consolidated force in responding to the challenges the outbreak of Ebola has caused the MRU.

Minister Duncan-Cassell re-echoed how women across the MRU countries have been disproportionally affected by the Ebola outbreak ranging from female health workers to female rural farmers than to cross-border traders, pregnant women as well as caregivers.

The Gender Minister urged that a short term complimentary international support will be critical to ensure full national ownership and sustainability of the initiative that focuses highly on human development.

“We are laying the foundation for our own action and destiny. This initiative will be aligned to the overall objective of our Agenda for Transformation,” Min. Duncan-Cassell added.

As part of their goal, the forum highlighted the need to draw a Social Investment Fund which accordingly will develop a comprehensive economic recovery plan for economic empowerment and socio-economic infrastructure and equipment initiative.

Other areas of discussion included the expansion of a vibrant social protection plan that will focus squarely on the support for identification and registration system for the Ebola Virus Disease Survivors as well as to support women to have access to training, counseling and medical care and nutritional support to pregnant and lactating women including a chronically malnourished children amongst others.

A well-developed Reproductive Health and Psychosocial Support plan was also highlighted as part of initiatives by the MRU First Ladies in combating the deadly Ebola Virus in the Mano River belt. The participants also discussed on how to provide psychosocial counseling to Ebola Virus Disease survivors, health workers and women including pregnant and lactating, and those affected by the Ebola outbreak.

The event which was held at the Ministry of Gender & Development (MOGD) brought together several high profile dignitaries including the African Union (AU) Representative to Liberia on Ebola, Her Excellency Kartumu Boakai, wife of the Vice President of Liberia, the UN Women and representative from the African Development Bank (ADB).

Others included the National Rural Women, the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA), the National Women Network, Representatives from the World Food Programme, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Education amongst others.

The one-day event was organized under the out species of the Ministry of Gender and Development with technical support from UN Women.