RICCE Wants Gender Mainstreamed in Oil Palm Development Fund Bill

The Rural Integrated Center for Community Empowerment (RICCE) wants gender mainstreamed into the Oil Palm Development Fund Bill currently being scrutinized by civil society organizations, government of Liberia and other partners.

Speaking at a well-attended quarterly information sharing meeting of CSOs, government and development partners, Madam Renee N. Gibson, the Program Manager of the Rural Integrated Center for Community Empowerment (RICCE) said women farmers are more vulnerable and less empowered than male oil palm farmers globally; especially in Liberia.

Madam Gibson said “So let’s close the gap by empowering women farmers and ensure that gender is mainstreamed in all section of the Bill before its submission to the National Legislature. The documents under discussion as preliminary findings from the field show that women were concerned about training, provision of loans and livelihoods activities.”

The Bill seeks to support smallholder farmers and ensure the development, modernization of the Liberian oil palm industry in all aspects, including capacity building for palm farmers, supply farming implements, improved palm seedlings among others and manufacturing of oil palm- based products to improve the performance and competitiveness of Liberian oil palm supply chain and value chain activities through funding from the oil palm concessionaires to address benefits to the affected communities and will not be under the County Development Fund (CDF).

However, members of the Civil Society Oil Palm Working Group (CSO-OPWG) have taken the Bill to six of Liberia’s 15 counties with oil palm concessions for county-level consultations, review and inputs from communities that are directly affected by oil palm concessions in Liberia.

The Secretariat of the CSO-OPWG is supported by the Green Livelihoods Alliance (GLA 2.0), Forest for a Just Future program. Under the (GLA 2.0), RICCE is hired as the Gender Technical Partner by the Global Forest Coalition (GFC), an alliance member of the GLA for gender transformation and inclusion into all GLA programs in Liberia.

As a member of the CSO-OPWG, RICCE provides technical support to partners to ensure that all of the program implementation is gender inclusive and gender responsive.

Following the county-level consultations, members of the CSO-OPWG convened an information sharing meeting on Friday September 8, 2023 to review what had been gathered from these consultations so far.

However, Madam Gibson said the ratio of men to women in positions to be occupied should be clearly spelled out in the Bill in order to give decision making and participation to women as well.

Sections eight & nine which talk about membership of the fund, institutional structure and administration of the fund didn’t state the ratio of men to women.

“We need to carefully look at the Bill and think about what is coming from the communities. Let the ratio of women to men on the board and committees be clearly spelled out in the Bill before passage,” the RICCE Program Manager said.

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