…..Oxfam, UN Women Joint Ebola Recovery Initiative – By: WASH R&E “Media” Network – About two hundred thousand women in Liberia and Sierra Leone are being targeted for economic empowerment.
The 5-year Program is under the theme: “Women Advancing the Post Ebola Recovery-Empowering women through WASH and Diversified Livelihoods”.
The joint initiative is supported by Oxfam and UN Women in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The disclosure was made during the start of a 2-Day Consultative Meeting recently held in Monrovia amongst stake holders, Oxfam and UN Women of the two countries.
Providing an insight of the Women Livelihood Initiative, Oxfam Regional Director for Africa, Madam Sharon Prendiville said the Program is aimed at creating income opportunity for women affected by the Ebola crisis in the two countries.
She noted that the Program is also targeting the improvement of livelihoods of women and regenerating income opportunity for them as well.
She said the 2-day Assembly of stake holders was intended to develop a frame work and designs that would propel the Women Empowerment Program.
Touching on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) issues in relationship with women, Madam Prendiville said WASH plays a major role in the prevention infectious diseases.
The Oxfam Regional Director for Africa described the issue of WASH concerning women in the two countries under the Program as essential.
She noted that lots of women are no longer involved in a kind of livelihood activities due to the Ebola crisis and it will also reinforce good behavior pattern in enforcing prevention around Ebola.
Briefing the WASH Media Network of Liberia on the joint initiative, the Country Director of Oxfam in Sierra Leone, Thynn Lynn, said women issues are at the core in the activities of Oxfam globally.
Madam Lynn noted that Oxfam prioritizes women issues because most women do not know what their rights are and how to claim it.
According to her, the two countries targeted by UN Women and Oxfam due to the Ebola crisis have similar problems when it comes to issues affecting women.
She said it is mandatory on the part of Oxfam as an international charity to raise issues, noting the Ebola response in the two countries provided the platform to the organization.
The Country Director of Oxfam Sierra Leone said working with UN Women to bring about this initiative with a focus on women affected by Ebola in the two countries means a lot to her organization.
She expressed confidence that the Project will bring about a sustainable change to women and girls in the two countries.
When quizzed on what are some of the changes the two organizations would like to see, Madam Lynn disclosed increase in livelihood opportunities for women who have lost their income due to the Ebola crisis.
Also speaking, UN Women Representative in Sierra Leone, Dr. Mary Okumu said the purpose of the program is to address gender impact of Ebola on men and women.
Dr. Okumu noted that a joint impact assessment was carried out in the two countries which revealed critical and familiar issues that women were facing in the Liberia and Sierra Leone.
She said some other issues arising from the assessment were linked to Water and Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for women.
She asserted that stake holders also stressed the need to continue investment in water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in the two countries.
Dr. Okumu said stake holders believe that when investment is done in WASH, it will serve as an impetus in the prevention of communicable diseases.
She noted that the second issue brought on the floor during the Meeting was the livelihood opportunity for women affected by the virus.
Dr. Okumu said the Program will take into consideration access to funding and communication.
She revealed that stake holders also stressed the need for the Project to be accessible and owned by the beneficiaries.
“Multi sartorial approach in the implementation of the Program was another key issue stressed by stake holders”, Dr. Okumu added.
For her part, the President of the Rural Women Association of Liberia Montserrado County Chapter, Korpu Howard, stressed the need for the Program to prioritize economic empowerment and WASH for women.
Madam Howard said many women in the two countries are experiencing difficult issues of economic empowerment and the availability of WASH facilities.
She thanked Oxfam and UN Women for the Empowerment Program and called on beneficiaries of both countries to make use of the opportunity.