Thursday, February 5, 2009

LTAS Hosts Participate in Virtual Dialogue Videoconference

On Thursday, January 22, 2998, the four LTAS co-hosts, Janice, Mahmud, Kula, and Bookman, joined sixteen other prominent Liberian youths in what was the first edition of a three-part series of virtual dialogues aimed at engaging women and young people on issues pertinent to women’s leadership and empowerment. It was a pre-event of International Women’s Colloquium on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security, which will be co-covened by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and President Tarja Halonen of Finland.

The dialogue, which brought together women leaders, youth activists, and students, joined Liberian women leaders and youths to their counterparts in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Tanzania, Egypt, and Sierra Leone via a videoconference.

Moderated by Counselor Yvette Chesson Wureh of Liberia, who is the Manager of the International Women’s Colloquium, the videoconference started off with the introduction of various moderators in the other participating countries, amongst which were Dr. Leila Takla, Board Member of the Suzanne Mubarak Women’s International Peace Movement in Egypt; Ms. Sri Danti, Deputy Minister for Gender Mainstreaming Affairs, Ministry of Women Empowerment in Indonesia; Mr. Ayoub Rioba, veteran Tanzanian journalist, who is now a lecturer of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Dar-es-Salam; and Dr. Neela Gunasekera, Chairperson of the National Committee on Women in the Ministry of Child Development and Women Empowerment in Sri Lanka.

After the introductions, Cllr. Chesson-Wureh interviewed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on a wide range of issues relative to women’s leadership and empowerment. Thereafter, the various countries formed breakaway groups to have discussions on what actions need to be put into place to ensure that women are able to genuinely compete with their male counterparts.

The youths identified factors such as early pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, male chauvinism, tradition, and illiteracy as major impediments to women’s empowerment and leadership. Their ideas and recommendations were documented in a two-page paper that was presented to the Colloquium Manager for deliberations during the International Women’s Colloquium, which will be a meeting of women from all around the world who would be coming together to share success stories and best practices on women’s leadership, empowerment, and security.

At the end of videoconference, the Liberian youths had the opportunity to interact one-on-one with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as Cllr. Chesson read each person’s brief biography and the work that they do. LTAS Host Mahmud Johnson used the opportunity to present the PSI/ LTAS IEC packet to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Written by Mahmud Johnson

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