The Talking Bus Project

 

The Talking Bus project is an initiative of the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security. 

 

It is a component of the overall Women’s Situation Room (WSR), which mobilizes, harnesses and taps on the expertise and experience of women to mitigate any potential act of violence that could emerge before, during and after elections.  

The Talking Bus brings on board, the participation of ordinary citizens to dialogue on a range of issues including infrastructure development, sensitization and public education about important local and national matters. 

The objective of the project is to maintain peace and stability by engaging citizens to use dialogue to address problems confronting them rather than resulting to violence.

The project also helps to create a platform that mobilizes women to speak out on issues affecting them, participate in decision making and contribute to national Development.

The Talking Bus project was first implemented with support from the United States Embassy near Monrovia under the theme “Making All Voices Count; increasing community participation in Liberia’s 2017 elections”. The project was executed in all fifteen counties of Liberia. It brought together diverse participants to discuss their development priority needs and proffer local solutions for those self-identified needs  

 

Some outcomes of the Talking Bus Initiative

The first Talking Bus project was successful in getting communities speak about their pressing development needs including but not limited to safe drinking water, roads, technical, vocation education, electricity, and security.

The public conscioustized on their civic duty to turn out and vote peacefully.

 Voters’ apathy changed and voters encouraged to turn out to vote in the runoff election.

Communities are enlightened to dialogue peacefully regarding any elections and electoral dispute; and to encourage their political parties to take electoral disputes to the courts and not to put people on the street.

Communities thought to be able to express themselves and speak out without fear.

Citizen sensitized to respect elected authorities.

Over ten thousand citizens sensitized to respect the decision of the voter and accept the outcome of the run-off election;

Over ten thousand citizens conscientized to put aside the election campaign rivalry, reconcile their differences, support the new government and contribute to national development;

Legal education provided to over ten thousand persons on various aspects of the rule of law including land ownership, rape, labour, domestic relations amongst others. 

Over ten thousand persons educated on the procedure to access the rule of law even without money.

Communities taught to be able to express themselves and speak out without fear or favor.

 Contentious communities remain peaceful and all citizens embracing to work with the new government.

 

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ABIC Wants More Women in Governance

 

The Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security on Friday, March 24, ended a nationwide forum focused on improving women’s participation in all forms of governance and decision making.

   The forum titled “Women in Governance and Planning Processes”, funded by the United Nations Mission in Liberia was launched on February 27, 2017, simultaneously in Voinjama, Lofa County, Barclayville, Grand Kru County and Bopolu, Gbarpolu County.  Since then, the project has been taking place in the remaining fifteen counties across the country.

   The closing ceremony, which took place at the end of the Montserrado Forum at the ABIC training center in Fendell was graced by the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP), UNDP, UN Women, the Mayor of the city of Bentol and representatives of the Mayor of the City of Monrovia.  The Project was financed as one of UNMIL’s Quick Impact Projects (QIP).

   In remarks at the closing program, Ms. Younger Fahn, who spoke on behalf of the participants, called for the continuation of such forum, as well as continuous community engagement with traditional leaders in order to help to alleviate traditional concepts that restrict women role in governance. 

   For her part, the Program Manager of ABIC, Mrs. Henrietta Tolbert, who spoke on behalf of the facilitators pointed out the challenges faced in the execution of the project, including bad road condition, limited finance to accommodate the huge number or participants that turned out among others.

   Making special remarks, the Gender Advisor at UNMIL, Maria Nakabiito lauded ABIC for the successful implementation of the project and noted that UNMIL was pleased to commit funds to such as initiative because the issue of women’s participation in governance is very essential to its mandate.  She noted that even though UNMIL is drawing down in Liberia, she is confident that national partners, such as ABIC can take over in moving the agenda of women forward. She called on participants to reach out to others in spreading the message of gender equality and women’s participation in governance.

   In response, the chairperson of the board of directors of ABIC, Hon. Olubanke King-Akerele, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia praised UNMIL for the support and emphasized the need for participants to ensure the message of the project has a ripple effect on the larger society, as proposed by the UNMIL Gender Adviser in her remarks.  Hon. King-Akerele highlighted some of the major outcomes of the forum including the identification of some of the barriers that continue to have negative effect on women participation in governance.  She stated that the target should not only be at the national legislature or the level of the presidency, but all forms of decision making processes from the rural to the urban areas.  She called on partners to ensure that the project is taken to another level to help enhance women’s participation in governance ahead of the forthcoming 2017 elections in Liberia.

  Also making separate remarks during the program were representatives from UN Women Liberia, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, and the Mayor of the city of Bentol, all of who expressed delight with the project, noting that it is a first step and a meaningful way to influence women’s participation in local decision making. Mayor Christine Tolbert Norman, specifically encouraged women to take up leadership roles in ther respective communities.  She stated that the natural tendency of women to ‘nurture’ makes them more capacitated for leadership role.

   The Forum in each county brought together over fifty participants comprising of representation from grassroot women organizations, youth groups community and traditional leaders amongst others, with at least sixty percent of participants made of women.

 

   The Forum centered on understanding gender concept, gender equality and mainstreaming, women’s rights as human rights including the right to participate in democratic process such as the right to vote and be voted for.  The Forum also discussed the barriers that are affecting women participation in governance and strategies to overcome the various barriers that were highlighted, including lack of finance, limited education and negative cultural practices against women such the traditional mentality that restricts women from leading men.

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ABIC Wants More Women in Governance

The Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security on Friday, March 24, ended a nationwide forum focused on improving women’s participation in all forms of governance and decision making.

  

The forum titled “Women in Governance and Planning Processes”, funded by the United Nations Mission in Liberia was launched on February 27, 2017, simultaneously in Voinjama, Lofa County, Barclayville, Grand Kru County and Bopolu, Gbarpolu County.  Since then, the project has been taking place in the remaining fifteen counties across the country.

   The closing ceremony, which took place at the end of the Montserrado Forum at the ABIC training center in Fendell was graced by the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP), UNDP, UN Women, the Mayor of the city of Bentol and representatives of the Mayor of the City of Monrovia.  The Project was financed as one of UNMIL’s Quick Impact Projects (QIP).

   In remarks at the closing program, Ms. Younger Fahn, who spoke on behalf of the participants, called for the continuation of such forum, as well as continuous community engagement with traditional leaders in order to help to alleviate traditional concepts that restrict women role in governance. 

   For her part, the Program Manager of ABIC, Mrs. Henrietta Tolbert, who spoke on behalf of the facilitators pointed out the challenges faced in the execution of the project, including bad road condition, limited finance to accommodate the huge number or participants that turned out among others.

   Making special remarks, the Gender Adviser at UNMIL, Maria Nakabiito lauded ABIC for the successful implementation of the project and noted that UNMIL was pleased to commit funds to such as initiative because the issue of women’s participation in governance is very essential to its mandate.  She noted that even though UNMIL is drawing down in Liberia, she is confident that national partners, such as ABIC can take over in moving the agenda of women forward. She called on participants to reach out to others in spreading the message of gender equality and women’s participation in governance.

   In response, the chairperson of the board of directors of ABIC, Hon. Olubanke King-Akerele, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia praised UNMIL for the support and emphasized the need for participants to ensure the message of the project has a ripple effect on the larger society, as proposed by the UNMIL Gender Adviser in her remarks.  Hon. King-Akerele highlighted some of the major outcomes of the forum including the identification of some of the barriers that continue to have negative effect on women participation in governance.  She stated that the target should not only be at the national legislature or the level of the presidency, but all forms of decision making processes from the rural to the urban areas.  She called on partners to ensure that the project is taken to another level to help enhance women’s participation in governance ahead of the forthcoming 2017 elections in Liberia.

  Also making separate remarks during the program were representatives from UN Women Liberia, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, and the Mayor of the city of Bentol, all of who expressed delight with the project, noting that it is a first step and a meaningful way to influence women’s participation in local decision making. Mayor Christine Tolbert Norman, specifically encouraged women to take up leadership roles in their respective communities.  She stated that the natural tendency of women to ‘nurture’ makes them more capacitated for leadership role.

   The Forum in each county brought together over fifty participants comprising of representation from grassroot women organizations, youth groups community and traditional leaders amongst others, with at least sixty percent of participants made of women.

 

   The Forum centered on understanding gender concept, gender equality and mainstreaming, women’s rights as human rights including the right to participate in democratic process such as the right to vote and be voted for.  The Forum also discussed the barriers that are affecting women participation in governance and strategies to overcome the various barriers that were highlighted, including lack of finance, limited education and negative cultural practices against women such the traditional mentality that restricts women from leading men.

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ABIC Extols UN Women, UNDP, Others for Support to Women’s Situation Room (WSR)

ABIC Extols UN Women, UNDP, Others for Support to Women’s Situation Room (WSR)

 

The Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security on Thursday, 4th August, 2016 hosted a press conference at the Monrovia City during which time it extolled the support of UN Women, UNDP as well as other national and international partners towards the Women Situation Room (WSR). The gathering was addressed via video conference from Ghana by Cllr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh, Establishment Coordinator of ABIC, and accompanied by a representative of UNDP –Ghana and Ms Comfort Lamptey, Regional Policy Adviser for Governance, Peace and Security, UN Women West and Central Africa Regional Office.  Hon. Olubanke King-Akerele presided over the deliberation in Monrovia in the presence of UNDP-Liberia Country Director, Dr. Kamil Kamaludeen Presidential Press Secretary, Hon. Jerelemik Piah and representatives from some partner civil society organizations.

 

Speaking during the gathering, the Establishment Coordinator of ABIC, Cllr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh, who addressed the gathering from the UNDP offices in Accra Ghana, described UNDP as the premier supporter of the WSR, with its support dating back to the start of the first WSR held in 2011 in Liberia. 

 

The ABIC boss stated, “Let me point out here that initial support for this initiative was pioneered by UNDP.  As a matter of fact, UNDP is regarded as the ‘god father’ of the WSR, given the extraordinary role they played from its inception, wherein the former Country Director, Mr. Dominic Sam spearheaded support to the first WSR and went on to being an integral part of the process by visiting the Room on elections day.”

 

In similar manner, Cllr. Chesson-Wureh acknowledged the enormous support of UN Women towards the replication and implementation of activities of the WSR in several countries where the initiative has been replicated; noting that UN Women has been an integral partner in ensuring the success of the Room.  She noted that the support from both UN Women and UNDP has been cardinal to ensuring the success of the WSR, which has been acclaimed not just nationally by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf but also regionally by the African Union (AU) and now globally, by the United Nations Security Council.

 

The seasoned lawyer and gender champion, also lauded women organizations, youth groups and other civil society actors including YWCA, MARWOPNET, WIPNET, WANEP, ECOWAS Women, FLY, LINSU, Voice of the Voiceless, Market Women Association, Rural Women Association, and a number of eminent citizens, who she described as the actual implementers of the WSR in which ABIC served as facilitator of the process.

 

Making interventions during the media briefing, Ms. Comfort Lamptey, former Gender Advisor of UNMIL and the current Regional Policy Adviser for Governance, Peace and Security, UN Women West and Central Africa Regional Office, who shared the platform with Cllr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh from Ghana, stated that UN Women was very pleased with the progress of the WSR and the recognition it continues to receive globally.  She stated, “UN Women is proud to have partnered for the establishment of Women’s Situation Rooms in countries including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Kenya, Nigeria, and most recently, Uganda.” 

Ms Lamptey committed that UN Women will continue to partner with ABIC and provide the necessary support for the replication of the WSR across the continent.  “UN Women remains committed to supporting the establishment of Women’s Situation Rooms in upcoming elections in Africa, as part of a broader package of support to enhance women’s political participation and also to enhance implementation of Security Council resolutions on women peace and security”, she concluded. 

 

For his part, the Country Director of UNDP Liberia, Dr. Kamil Kamaluddeen, stressed that elections should not be a factor to divide people, as it has often been the case.   He expressed confidence that the WSR will ensure that early warnings and quick intervention are put in place in order to mitigate any potential conflict that may arise during the electoral process.  Dr. Kamaludeen noted that because of the confidence in the women of Liberia, UNDP as well as UN Women will continue to support the mechanism of WSR.

 

The press conference, presided over by Hon. Olubanke King-Akerele, Chair of the board of directors of ABIC and attended by Ms. Cecelia Danuweli of WIPNET and Mrs. Roseline Toweh of the YWCA, was intended to highlight to the public the continued international recognition of the WSR, which provides the WSR high visibility, legitimacy and credibility to the Room, as well as acknowledges its integrity and neutrality, as it champions the cause of non-violence before, during and after elections.

 

She stated that immediately upon the return of Cllr. Chesson-Wureh from Ghana, where she is currently working out modalities for the replication of the WSR during that country’s elections slated for later this year, the process of the WSR in Liberia for the 2017 general and presidential elections will commence.  She concluded that the participation of all women organizations, youth groups and other civil society actors will be highly important for the success of the WSR during the 2017 elections in Liberia and that ABIC looks forward to collaborate with them as in both the 2011 elections and the senatorial elections of 2014. On behalf of ABIC, she expressed appreciation to all those who attended the press conference and their coverage of same.

 

 

The WSR is a process that mobilizes, harnesses and taps on the expertise and experiences of women to act to mitigate potential conflict leading to violence that could emerge before, during and after election.  It promotes women and youth to play an active and direct role in peace and security efforts and to engage in peace processes and conflict prevention mechanisms in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820.

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President Sirleaf Lauds ABIC at Women’s Conference

 

Hundreds of women from the length and berth of Liberia assembled at the Paynesville City Hall on July 13 - 14, 2016 for a National Women’s Conference to discuss and address issues of gender equality, gender based violence and involvement in peace and security in the wake of the draw-down of the United Nations Mission in Liberia.

 

The gathering, held under the theme, “Step it up: Mobilizing to bridge the gap for gender equality” was hosted by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, the Women Legislative Caucus of Liberia and the Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia; bringing together over five hundred and fifty women from the fifteen political sub-divisions of Liberia. The two-day program, which was held in collaboration with the United Nations System and its partners as well as the Carter Center also brought together an array of diplomats including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other high level female government officials, the special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Farid Zarif and the Ambassador of the European Union, Ms. Tiina Intelmann amongst others.

 

Addressing the gathering at the opening session on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, President Johnson Sirleaf praised the women of Liberia for the visible role they have continued to play. President Sirleaf stated that even though women in Liberia have suffered immense discrimination over the years, the works of women organizations such as the Federation of Liberian Women, the Liberian Women Initiative and the Liberian Women Political Forum amongst others, have made tremendous stride in promoting the voice of Liberian women in various spears, nationally and internationally.

 

President Sirleaf made specific reference to the Women’s Situation Room, an initiative of the Angie Brooks International Centre for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security, which in making history globally. She noted that the Women’s Situation Room provides an opportunity for women’s direct involvement in Peace and Security mechanisms during electoral processes, an initiative that has gained international admiration. President Sirleaf recounted the establishment of the ABIC, noting that it is the ongoing institutional follow-up to the International Colloquium, held in March 2009; the first post-war international conference in Liberia that brought together women leaders from all over the world.

 

The Women’s Situation Room was initiated during the 2011 elections in Liberia by a coalition of women, youth and students, spearheaded by the Angie Brooks International Centre.  In January 2012, on the margins of the 18th African Union Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Women’s Situation Room was described as “best practice” for curbing violence before, during and after elections on the continent. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was requested to champion the initiative and ensure it is replicated at all elections in Africa. As a result of the success of the WSR, the ABIC was awarded the Pan- African Service Award for Peace and Security as well as women’s empowerment on the continent during celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The initiative has been replicated in Senegal, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda.

 

The Liberia Chief Executive noted that in the wake of UNMIL draw-down, women should make use of their various organizations, structures and institutions to help in maintaining the peace especially as the country heads to the crucial 2017 general elections.

 

 

The National Women’s Conference was marked by deliberations on several key issues including: Integrating Gender in the 2017 General and Presidential Elections; Women Access to Information; Information and Assessment on the Liberian Women Federation; Sustaining Peace and Security in the Wake of UNMIL Draw-down; Women Potential Leadership; and Awareness on Key Instruments on Women’s Empowerment.  The conference also witnessed the presentation of the Affirmative Action Bill to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for onward submission to the National Legislature. 

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