It seems that our Women & Revolution series continues to remain at the forefront of international news these days. While the revolutions in the Middle East have been dominating the news, the ongoing strife in the Ivory Cost has not quite received the same degree of coverage. A unique approach by the US Ambassador to Liberia has attempted to address the issue of mercenary soldiers from Liberia committing crimes in the Ivory Coast.
Recently, the US Ambassador to Liberia Linda Thomas-Greenfield hosted a “Liberian Women’s Political Empowerment Workshop” as part of the Embassy’s celebration of Women’s History Month. During the conference Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield urged Liberian women to reject money from their children and family members which may have been earned through mercenary activities in the Ivory Coast.
Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield should be commended for attempting to appeal to the family structure as a means of stemming the violence in the Ivory Coast. However, despite its good intentions, it fails to propose alternative solutions for families desperate for funds.
In 2008 Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf gave a speech to World Bank officials on the importance of empowering women to reduce poverty and encourage economic sustainability. In this speech President Sirleaf states that the infrastructure and economic conditions which continue to hold back Liberia are those which have a direct negative impact on women. Knowing this, it seems unlikely that simply calling on the women of Liberia to reject mercenary money will lead them to do so.
Instead, continued alliances and partnerships like the $15 million Liberian Threshold Grant Program, signed between the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Government of Liberia to,
focus on improving land rights and access, increasing girls’ primary education enrollment and retention, and improving Liberia’s trade policy and practices.
may actually do more to address the root causes of poverty in Liberia which lead families to accept funds acquired in the Ivory Coast