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At a glance: Liberia

Global youth forum in Liberia stresses importance of education for all

© UNICEF Liberia/2009/Vigneault
Liberia's President, H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, addresses the young delegates at the opening ceremony of the Emerging Leaders Forum in Monrovia.

By Louis Vigneault and Glenna Gordon

MONROVIA, Liberia, 20 March 2009 – More than 80 young delegates from around the world gathered in Liberia for the Emerging Leaders Forum earlier this month, in preparation for the International Colloquium for Women's Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security.

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The colloquium was held in the Liberian capital on 7-8 March. The young leaders met at the pre-event to share and discuss their positions on issues that affect their lives.

Leadership potential

"Each young delegate has the potential to become a strong leader, and they must seize every opportunity to play an influential role for their future," said UNICEF Representative in Liberia Rozanne Chorlton. "It is a women's colloquium, but men and women have to work hand in hand in on the way forward," she added.

© UNICEF Liberia/2009/Vigneault
Eighty delegates from around the world gathered in Monrovia, Liberia for the Emerging Leaders Forum, in preparation for the International Women's Colloquium.

The youth forum was chaired by the Minister of Youth and Sports, with support from UNICEF and other partners. The objective was to build young people's capacity to work towards women's empowerment.

The delegates had the opportunity to meet peers from different countries and to share experiences and visions for the future. Economic empowerment, climate change and sustainable development were among the main topics of discussion.

'From Access to Success'

Following the youth forum, nearly 1,000 women leaders and delegates from around the world gathered for the women's colloquium.

© UNICEF Liberia/2009/Vigneault
UNICEF Representative in Liberia Rozanne Chorlton praised the leadership of the young delegates at the Emerging Leaders Forum and emphasized the importance of men and women working hand in hand.

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Hilde F. Johnson moderated a panel on the importance of educating women. The session featured participants discussing gender issues and best practices on advancing the educational status of women and girls in their respective countries.

The panel concluded by formulating a policy advisory entitled, 'From Access to Success'.

Educated women help society

Among the recommendations that resulted from the discussion were:

  • Ensuring that the goal of universal primary education does not overshadow the importance of secondary education
  • Supplementing school fees with extra support for food, housing and textbooks
  • Providing sanitation facilities and sanitary pads for girls to be able to attend school safely at all times
  • Encouraging parental involvement as paramount to success
  • Recruiting and hiring more female teachers to encourage girl students
  • Establishing networks of female students – as well as student-faculty networks – so that girls can both report abuses and provide support to each other.

Ms. Johnson also emphasized the importance of educating women for the betterment of society as a whole. She stressed that educated women are better equipped to protect their children's health and well-being, as well as their own.




9 March 2009: UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on a visit by Deputy Executive Director Hilde F. Johnson to a safe house for children and women in Monrovia, Liberia.
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