The Former Ambassador of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWS) to Liberia, Babatunde Ajisomo, has applauded cross border women traders for their resilience and commitment to promoting cross border trade and commerce in the ECOWAS region.
Ambassador Ajisomo gave the commendation at a recent program marking the honoring of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), European Union (EU), and the Government of Liberia (GOL), for their collaboration and significant achievements relative to the implementation of the regional integration process within ECOWAS and its socio-economic and political impact on interstate women traders in Liberia.
Ambassador Ajisomo also appreciated the efforts of cross border women traders for being strong in providing for their families and communities, describing them as “women of achievement and substance.”
The ECOWAS diplomat encouraged cross border women traders in Liberia and other parts of the ECOWAS region not to be discouraged by the multiple challenges they face and urged them to be law-abiding in the conduct of their business activities at all times.
“All you have to do is to know your rights, speak out and insist that your rights are respected, especially when someone tries to infringe on your rights,” said Ambassador Ajisomo.
The Ambassador expressed delight for the positive steps taken by the inter-state women traders and their persistent support for regional peace, security as well as cross-border trade and commerce.
“Peace is not abstract, it is linked to work, justice and development,” Ambassador Ajisomo said to the gathering of women women.
He recounted the resilience of Liberian women who were in the forefront during the country’s brutal civil war, engaging then belligerent forces to disarm, embrace peace and democratic governance in Liberia.
The ECOWAS diplomat further emphasized that such peaceful actions by Liberian women significantly contributed to the signing of the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2003.
He underscored the need for the ECOWAS region to provide women traders media and other informative and educational platforms aimed at highlighting issues that affect them and to enhance advocacy as it relates to women’s rights in member states and at various cross border points.
While expressing firm support for women’s rights advocacy, Ambassador Ajisomo called on authorities of ECOWAS member states to collaborate in addressing cross-border issues that serve as impediments for women traders including harassment, intimidation, sexual exploitation and abuse.
Similarly, the ECOWAS Ambassador, who spoke on the theme: “How Can We Improve the Living Condition of Our Women & Children,” paid glowing tribute to Women Beyond Borders (WBB), the Better Future Foundation (BFF) and the Government of Liberia (GOL) for their relentless efforts and hard work towards empowering the women and youth of Liberia.
Speaking at the honoring ceremony, Mr. Augustine Arkoi, Founder and President of the Better Future Foundation (BFF), disclosed that the program was the outcome of a flagship project awarded to BFF nearly a decade ago sourced from an open call for proposal for non-state actors’ participation in the regional integration process in West Africa.
According to the BFF President, the venture was bankrolled by the European Union under the 9th European Development Fund and Fund for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP), through the ECOWAS Commission as the contracting authority.
According to Mr. Arkoi, BFF’s project “awareness among inter-state Women traders and law enforcement state agents in Liberia” addressed one of the three thematic areas in the call for proposal: “Achieving Regional Customs Union and Common Market within ECOWAS.”
Mr. Arkoi pointed out that a total of 597 inter-state women traders and 272 state security agents successfully participated in the project in 11 of Liberia’s 15 counties.
The project was officially launched by then Vice President of Liberia on Friday, 25, February 2011, at the Liberia Chamber of Commerce on Capitol Hill in Monrovia.
During the honoring ceremony held on Monday, March 16, 2020, accolades were bestowed on Representatives of ECOWAS, EU and GOL.
At the same time, a number of cross-border women traders, who have immensely benefited from the EU funded project, were honored at the honoring ceremony, and they gave interesting highlights of their individual success stories.
Those honored were Mrs. Sangai Dorley Dumbar for exemplary grassroots leader and mobilizer, Mrs. Kebbeh H. Banakpallah for outstanding habitat trading, Mrs. Mama K. Sulomkemelee for ambitious international trading.
Others were Mrs. Garmai Gbelee, current mayor of city of Zorzor in Lofa County, and Mrs. Kebbeh K. Beyan, current chairlady of women’s league of an electoral district, both for outstanding political achievements.
The women beneficiaries, all of whom wore scarf bearing logo and flags of ECOWAS, EU and Liberia, applauded BFF and its collaborating group, Women Beyond Borders (WBB) for the project which they described as very rewarding as it relates to the capacity development of women traders.
The women lauded ECOWAS for its positive contributions to their business activities, leading to improving their individual and collective livelihoods.
The cross-border women organized under the name “Women Beyond Borders (WBB), narrated their experiences and challenges in the conduct of their business operations particularly along various border-crossing points within the ECOWAS region.
The Women praised the ECOWAS Authority for its resolve and commitment to strengthening and enhancing regional peace, security and cooperation and facilitating free movement of goods and services for the benefit of ECOWAS Community citizens.
The Women Beyond Borders (WBB) also stressed the need for a comprehensive survey bordering on the livelihoods of inter-state women traders whose constituency forms the bedrock economic base for Liberia and the ECOWAS Community consistent with the feminine agenda under the United Nations (UN) Resolution 1325.
Better Future Foundation (BFF), a non-state actor and an advocate of ECOWAS regional integration, is a civil society organization dedicated to the postwar reconstruction and development of Liberia. BFF’s mission primarily involves initiating programs and activities aimed at promoting socio-economic, educational, international cultural understanding and cooperation.