Women Seeking Information in Liberia Face Barriers

18 July 2014

Barriers exist that limit women’s access to information they want, according to a study done in Liberia by the Carter Center.

“Structural and cultural barriers exist that impede women’s facility to exercise the fundamental right to information,” the report concludes.

It states that women “want information about education, land/property ownership, and how to start and maintain a business in Liberia.”

Recommendations for next steps, developed during a recent meeting in Liberia, will be forthcoming, according the organization founded by former US Present Jimmy Carter.

The report, based on extensive surveys and interviews, concludes:

While it is too often said that women do not want information, the findings of this study clearly belie that claim. Community leaders and women interviewed during non-participant observation affirmed their interest and need for information, particularly information that could lead to increased economic empowerment and the protection of their rights. Women want information about education, land/property ownership, and how to start and maintain a business in Liberia.

However, structural and cultural barriers exist that impede women’s facility to exercise the fundamental right to information. Barriers such as illiteracy, not knowing where or how to access public information, fear/lack of confidence, and competing household responsibilities, represent a challenge to women seeking information. Notwithstanding, if these obstacles can be overcome, the vast majority of respondents confirmed that access to public information would lead to women becoming more economically empowered and better overall development outcomes for her family, the community and Liberia

Intentionally, this study does not provide prescriptive conclusions, but rather serves to demonstrate the inequities and illuminate the challenges. With the completion of the study and dissemination of findings, the Carter Center hopes to collaborate with key government and civil society partners to jointly identify potential solutions to change the information asymmetries facing women in Liberia. By anchoring the work in a few key areas of economic empowerment, including education, land and starting a business, we hope to demonstrate the potential of access to information and to have more immediate impacts on alleviating the obstacles that women face in their exercise of their right. To assure that women have a meaningful and equitable access to information, all stakeholders will need to act creatively and in partnership. With the demonstrated commitment of the Government of Liberia and civil society, the potential of information for women’s economic empowerment will surely be realized.

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