A group of women under the banner “Women’s Coalition For County Development” (WCCD) in partnership with the Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP) recently petitioned the 54th legislature with a request for the inclusion of women in the Management and Implementation of County Social Development Fund (CSDF).

WCCD in its petition to the 54th legislature, read by the MMargibi County Chairperson
Roseline Cassell on Thursday May 27. 2021, seeks concrete steps in reducing poverty among Liberian women and girls and their vulnerability to exploitation and abuse by strategising gender sensitive targets in development programs funded through County Social Development Funds (CSDF) in order to ensure that women have a voice and representation at all levels of developmental decision making within the financial sector.

The group considers the need to ensure that funding for development programs under the CSDF must include allocations for women to provide financial aid to engage in small businesses as a way to respond to the economic challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The County and Social Development Fund (CSDF) standalone bill passed by the Liberian House of Representatives and sent to the Senate for a vote includes a 25% gender quota in favor of women. We want the 54th legislature to review the bill thereby increasing the seats for women to 30% minimum quota in parallel to the Liberian new elections law which promotes women’s political participation and ensure resources are allocated for its implementation across the country”, also remain one of their three intrinsic priorities.

Meanwhile, the petition, which was submitted to the Liberian Senate through the Office of the Vice President further pointed out the need for the three members that constitute the CSDF Project Management Committee (PMC) to include at least one female in each county.

As part of a total reshuffling in the CSDF, and considering all necessary benefits that are required, WCCD has called on the legislature to revisit the minimum level for which women’s opportunities have been, in line with a report that ignore gender equity.

“The baseline report also showed that the structure of CSDF governance and the process for selecting delegates to county council meetings impedes women’s participation and minimizes opportunities for gender equity”, they confirmed.

However, WCCD revealed that a survey commissioned by the Liberia Women’s Media Action Committee (LIWOMAC) shows that 32 out of 381 or 8% of respondents confirmed that they knew about the County Social Development Fund.

While only 6 of the 32 confirmed respondent communities were impacted, but the impact was not gender sensitive.

Moreover, the women complained that there has been little investment in market structures, hospitals, schools and even playgrounds for our children.

Stressing several other concerns, they resented that over the years they have been under informed about the workings and implementations of the County Social Development Fund, and it still has little or no direct impact on the lives of women in the counties.

Receiving the networks’ petition, River Cess County District #1 Representative, and the chairperson on Gender and Equity, Children Protection Committee Hon. Rosana Schaack assured her commitment in ensuring that the petition gets to plenary.

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