Source: The New Dawn
The Sweden Embassy near Monrovia and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality, and UN WOMEN have signed a six-month Gender Sector Support Program Preparatory Phase Project in Monrovia.

The program, held on Wednesday, 27 May at the Royal Grand Hotel in Sinkor, suburb of Monrovia, brought together high level government officials, including Liberia's Minister of Gender, Development and Social Protection, Madam Julia Duncan-Cassel; Minister of Internal Affairs, Morris Dukuly; UN Women Country Representative to Liberia, Ms. Awa Ndiaye Seck and other staff members of the UN as well as the Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, Sofia Strand.

Making remarks at the signing ceremony, UN Women Country Representative Ms. Awa Ndiaye Seck, welcomed the dignitaries and thanked the Government and People of Sweden for committing to support a preparatory program that would achieve significant results for the development of a much larger program in the push for strengthening the gender equality and women's empowerment agenda for Liberia.

"The signing of this agreement with Sweden marks an important milestone for UN WOMEN and partners, and it is our hope that this program will achieve the expected results in support of the future four year evidence-based program", Ms. Seck said.

The six-month Gender Sector Support Program Preparatory Phase Project according to the UN WOMEN Country Representative, will develop, with the participation of key stakeholders, a four-year program responding to their strategic needs and producing significant institutional gains for the national gender architecture and gender advocate networks in the area of improved accountability and improved delivery.

The specific objectives of the project include among others, establishing a baseline for all key gender indicators included in the Agenda for Transformation; the National Gender Policy and its action plan, and will identify the data gaps for effective monitoring to the extent possible as the data will also populate indicators within the National Action Plan for UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

It will also undertake a participatory institutional assessment of the National Gender Machinery, with a focus on the Ministries of Gender, Development and Social Protection, and Finance, Development and Planning to identify institutional and capacity gaps which hinder its ability to fully achieve its mandate in the area of implementation of the National Gender Policy.

Swedish Ambassador Sofia Strand acknowledged that majority of the world's population makes up poor people Liberia being no exception, particularly women and girls, who live in deepest poverty.

"This means that women and girls are subject to discrimination based on sex and perception of gender to a much greater extent than men and generally have much less power, worse living conditions and fewer prospects and opportunities than men", Ambassador Strand explained.

She added that Gender equality - equal rights for men and women - is not only a human right in itself; but has multiple development effects on so many levels, for women, the family and the society as a whole, saying, "expanding women and girls economic opportunities is smart economics."

"I am therefore happy today to announce that Sweden together with UN WOMEN will sign this agreement on a preparatory phase for developing a larger integrated gender sector program with the aim of strengthening Liberian women's economic and political empowerment", the Swedish envoy concluded.

Making remarks, the Minister of Gender, Development and Social Protection, Julia Duncan-Cassell, thanked the Government of Sweden for always being one of the champions when it comes to women's empowerment, women's involvement, women in peace and security, women's health and women's rights in Liberia.

She called on others to support women's empowerment and women in politics, which is also a part of the Government of Liberia's Agenda for Transformation, stressing, "GoL cannot do it alone."

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