The idea of the establishment of the Chief Suah Koko Centre for Rural Women Empowerment was conceptualized on 8 March 2009 by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf during the launch of the Angie Brooks International Centre for Women’s Empowerment and International Peace and Security (ABIC) in Liberia. The ABIC is an outcome of the International Women’s Colloquium, and during the launch, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf extolled women whose contributions to Liberia remains a huge historical significance.
President Johnson-Sirleaf pinpointed Madame Suah Koko, describing her as a national hero. Her Excellency noted that whereas Angie Brooks was Liberia’s icon, admired and respected within the international circle, Madame Suah Koko was an emblem of peace and was hailed nationally for her numerous contributions to the Republic of Liberia. The President described Madame Suah Koko as a true inspiration to Angie Brooks and that in-turn Angie Brooks had inspired her today.
Chief Suah Koko was a female Chief who helped the Republic of Liberia in the expansion drive. She helped the central government of Liberia advance its territorial and political gains by consolidating the various chiefdoms to unite under the umbrella of the Republic of Liberia, through her provision of intelligence, logistics and hospitality.
President Sirleaf said it will be based on these facts that a centre, specifically for the training of rural women, will be constructed in honour of Madam Suah Koko at Cuttington University Campus in Suakoko, Bong County. The centre is expected to bring together women from all parts of Liberia for the purpose of training and empowerment.
The Chief Suah Koko Centre for the empowerment of rural women under the auspices of the ABIC was constructed in the second quarter of 2014 and dedicated by President Johnson on June 9, 2014. The centre is a purely non-profit, non-governmental organization, established under the laws of Liberia for the purpose of training and facilitating of workshops on rural women’s empowerment, leadership development, and promotion of peace and security throughout Liberia.
The Centre realizes that rural women are largely breadwinners of their families. Despite their huge contributions to their families and their communities, they have limited access to basic necessities such as access to basic education, food security, participation in decision making process and opportunity for credit or loan scheme. As the result, ABIC established the Adult Literacy Program (ALP) in 2015 to enhance rural women’s capacity building. The program started full operations in 2016 with support from UNDP to develop essentially the potentials of rural women and underprivileged girls.
By the fifth year of the ALP operations, ABIC intends to have at least 400 rural women directly empowered with the abilities and skills to make contributions as community leaders, employees, advocates, responsible parents, local partners, developed self-esteem, aspirants for elected positions and voices that represent entire communities. This initiative also intends to enhance the efforts underway for women’s empowerment especially to contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)-goal 5, particularly 5.5 which talks about “Ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life” including 5.a, b & c and the UNSCR 1325 which affirms the role of women in peace processes and peace building in their countries.
The Angie Brooks International Centre has committed itself to continue securing funding to support the Chief Suah Koko Centre, with the intent to create linkage between supporting entities, and support the national endeavours and programs of the Ministry of Gender and Development and Government of Liberia under whose jurisdiction the Chief Suah Koko Centre falls.