Former president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has called on President Lazarus Chakwera to create an enabling environment that prioritizes women initiatives to grow in wealth, power and authority to ensure enjoyment of equal opportunities.
She was speaking virtually on Wednesday in Lilongwe during the launch of the gender responsive procurement financial inclusion initiative and a K10 billion women’s fund that will be followed by a business women summit.
Sirleaf noted that Covid-19 which has disrupted economies has compounded gender inequalities as it has pushed more women into poverty through the loss of jobs and business opportunities.
“Your voice is important in changing attitudes towards women which has kept countries and women behind. I urge you to take this message wherever you go. I place you among men with ability to support women,” Sirleaf said.
Sirleaf pointed out that women are not satisfied with the micro loans that they currently receive as it has not pushed them to new horizons.
“The women’s fund wants to set a new pace, we want to run because we have learned how to walk and have walked for too long”.
“We want to see transformative amounts of money in the hands of women, who are trained to manage the money”, she stated.
Sirleaf urged leaders to have faith in the abilities of women to make a difference which is evident from the experience and performance displayed over the years.
In his remarks, Chakwera promised to create a level playing field for business women by tackling and addressing issues that impact their progress.
“I challenge you as business women to disabuse yourself of the obsession to succeed alone, because whether in business or life, no one ever succeeds alone”, said Chakwera.
Chakwera stated that he will not tolerate the politicizing of the National Economic Empowerment Fund (NEEF) that hinders women’s progress.
“I will ensure that the best business ideas are supported based on merit and not on political affiliation because NEEF was created as a bridge not a barrier” he said.
Minister of Gender, Community, Development and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati said her Ministry has put in place strategic and policy measures to ensure that women actively participate in economic development in the country.