ECOWAS launches "50 million women speak platform" project in Liberia

APA-Monrovia (Liberia)

In a bid to boost gender equity in Liberia, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection Wednesday launched the “50 Million Women Speak Platform” Project aimed at improving their access to information and financing.

In remarks during the launch of the program Wednesday at Boulevard Hotel, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection Williametta Saydee-Tarr who served as proxy for Liberia First Lady
Clar M. Weah said the launch of the 50 women platform is intended to create a dynamic network for women to have access to trade finance and business opportunities in urban and rural areas.

Minister Tarr pointed out that the project is in line with the Agenda 2063 and SDG goals, as well as provisions on the empowerment of women and youth through various initiatives including ICTs.

According to the Gender Minister, it is meant to facilitate access to knowledge, financial services, the establishment of networks, access to markets and capacity building opportunities, coaching,
value-addition,, business startups, and the growth of women entrepreneurs on the African Continent.

Also making remarks, the Special Representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia, Ambassador ‘Tunde O. Ajisomo, noted that the Government of President George Manneh Weah has left no one in doubt of his strong commitment to women empowerment, as he earned the
title of “Feminist in Chief” recently.

He explained that the ’50 Million Women Speak Platform’ Project has been developed by the African Development Bank (AFDB) in partnership with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the East African Community (EAC).

Ambassador Ajjisomo said it was conceived in 2017 to create a technology platform aimed at putting women on the networks with institutions and partners that could support their businesses on the
other hand.

The ’50 Million Women Speak Platform’ Project has become imperative as African women business owners continue to face gender-related barriers as a result of lower levels of education and business training, weak property rights that deprive them of collateral and tangible assets, the ECOWAS official noted.

"Legal and regulatory barriers that impede their economic activities as well as cultural barriers that discourage women from becoming successful entrepreneurs still remain a major problem," he added.

The project, he stated, is expected to address some of these challenges as it would create a dynamic networking platform for entrepreneurs, connecting them with one another in ways that will
foster peer-to-peer learning, mentoring and sharing of information and knowledge in the communities.

The women project, implemented over a period of three years in the countries of the three sub-regional communities COMESA-ECOWAS-EAC, is in line with the provisions relating to the empowerment of women and youth set out in the African Union Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs).

In a recent report, the Information and Communication Technologies (IFC) estimated that 70 percent of women-owned SMEs in developing countries do not or insufficiently benefit from services offered by financial institutions, resulting in a funding gap of $285 billion.


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