About the Centre
The idea for the establishment of the Chief Suah Koko Centre for Rural Women Empowerment was conceptualized by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the launch of the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) during the 2009 International Women’s Colloquium in Liberia. During the launch of ABIC, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf extolled women whose contributions to Liberia remains a huge historical significance. She identified Chief Suah Koko as a national hero and noted that whereas Angie Brooks was Liberia’s icon, admired and respected within the international community, Chief Suah Koko was a symbol of national peace, hailed for her numerous contributions to the country. The President described Chief Suah Koko as a true inspiration to Angie Brooks and Angie Brooks as an inspiration to her.
At the time of its conception, it was envisioned that the centre would bring together women from all parts of Liberia, especially rural women, for the purpose of training and empowerment. The 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 workshops on rural women’s empowerment, leadership development, and promotion of peace and security throughout Liberia. The centre is located at the Cuttington University Campus, Suakoko, Bong County.
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 schemes. As a result, ABIC established the Adult Literacy Program (ALP) in 2015 to enhance rural women’s capacity building.
The program started it full operations in 2016 with support from UNDP to essentially develop the potentials of rural women and underprivileged girls. The ABIC is also committed to continue securing funding to support the Centre, with the intent to create linkages between supporting entities, the national programmes of the Ministry of Gender and Development, and Government of Liberia.
The Chief Suah Koko Centre is currently operating ALP with at least 90 rural women participating and more are expected to be enrolled. What is lacking at the moment is adequate funding to support the empowerment of the rural women through literacy. This challenge has the propensity to wipe out rural women’s expectation for education and most importantly, it undermines the efforts underway to increase women’s participation in decision making processes at the community and national levels. In an effort to continue the program, ABIC aims to seek funding annually to ensure the centre achieves its objectives.
By its fifth year of 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 is our significant aspiration to enhance efforts underway for women’s empowerment especially to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 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’ and UNSCR 1325 which affirms the role of women in peace processes and peace building in their countries.
About Chief Suah Koko
Chief Suah Koko was the first woman Liberian tribal chief who lived between the late 19th and early 20th century. She ruled a chiefdom in the northeast and northwest of Liberia, including land within modern day Bong County, which was governed from her residence at Suakoko. Due to the geopolitical location of her land, and it corresponding strategic access to other regions of the hinterland, she supported the central government of Liberia to advance its territorial and political gains by providing intelligence, logistics and hospitality. She fought for the consolidation of various chiefdoms under the umbrella of the Republic of Liberia.