Monrovia resembles a rural Indian town stuck in the 70s. With its laid back easygoing populace, old and sometimes decrepit buildings (including my office at the Ministry of Gender and Development, henceforth to be referred to as the MoGD). The MoGD is on in the intersection between UN Drive and Gurley Street. As you may know, Monrovia has a substantial presence of international aid agencies including USAID, UNMIL, UN Women, UNFPA, UNDP and WFP. UN Drive has a number of theses offices making the area a cozy expat heaven.
I arrived here on a rainy Tuesday evening on 8 May. Not knowing anyone here in Liberia and as a first time visitor in Africa, it was reassuring to see Johnny from the MoGD who would be my friend, guide, and philosopher for the first week in Liberia. I am then taken to my temporary 'home', a guest house opposite the road from the MoGD where 'Maureen' the owner welcomes me in the middle of a electricity breakdown (prepare for frequent power shortages in Liberia) and introduces me to the family - Gertrude, the cook, Big Isaac (security during the night shift), Small Isaac (security during the day). Yes, that's exactly what they are called by Maureen.
I will be here for 9 weeks working with the MoGD, Liberia as they prepare their 5- year strategic plan for the National Gender Policy. Liberian women have faced gender violence and rape especially during the war, that continues to this date especially in the form of domestic violence. It is therefore heartening to see the presence of so many Liberian women in leadership positions within the government.
The MoGD aims to ‘mainstream’ gender i.e. introduce gender based benefits and policies amongst cross-cutting government departments. The second priority for the MoGD is M&E (Monitoring ad Evaluation). I will be be assisting them in both over the next few weeks, as well as initiate my own project in the coming weeks.
I am extremely grateful to the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard Kennedy School and the Cultural Bridge Fellowship for this unique opportunity. For more adventures from Liberia, watch this space!