Margaret Bouibo was told her whole life that women were not supposed to speak their minds; that they were a man’s property. Now, she holds a leadership position in her community, educating other women on their rights.
When Margaret Bouibo was growing up, she was told that women belonged in the kitchen. Their job was to take care of the home and the children; getting involved in politics was frowned upon. She was taught that women shouldn’t raise their voices in the company of men.
“We used to call women in politics ‘disrespectful’ and ‘wanting to act like men’,” Margaret recalls.
It was in 2017 that one of Margaret’s friends encouraged her to join a newly established women’s group in the community, organised by Kvinna till Kvinna’s Liberian partner organisation LIWEN. At the time, domestic violence, teenage pregnancy and abuses against women and girls had been on the increase in the community. It was common to view women solely as the property of men.
Margaret was hesitant about joining the women’s group at first. Her friend had told her that they were going to learn about women’s rights, public speaking and getting involved in leadership at the local and national level.
“I was afraid as I had never heard of such a thing before. But my friend forced me, and I went to the workshop”, says Margaret.
After that, it didn’t take long before Margaret decided to take an active role in the women’s forum established by LIWEN.
“When I attended their workshop, I learned that we as women have rights, that we are supposed to take part in politics and take part in community leadership—not only men”, she says.
After hearing her whole life that women were not to take on leadership positions, Margaret now serves as the head of the village savings and loan association. She also supports women affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence, organises activities for young girls and works to create awareness for women’s rights in the community.
For Margaret, a single mother of ten children—five biological and five from other family members—access to education for women and girls is a key priority. Together with other women in the community, she works to increase awareness about the importance of women’s political participation amongst young girls.
“We want the children to take over when we’re gone,” she says.
At the same time, Margaret wants the government in Liberia to prioritise education for women and girls, with a particular focus on rural communities across the country.
“I’m worried about the future of our girls who end up getting married young. I hope that in the future, the government pushes education and makes it mandatory.”
Thanks to LIWEN, Margaret feels like she can pass on her knowledge about women’s rights to others in the community. In the future, she also hopes to implement some of her community projects on a national level.
“We need more empowerment programmes for women, because when you are not doing anything for yourself, the men can overlook you”, she says with a loud voice.
“We want to teach our mothers and little sisters the importance of women’s education, because they are not a man’s property. I also want to let them know that they have a right to take part in women’s leadership in the town and village.”
Kvinna till Kvinna has worked for women’s rights in Liberia since 2010 and we have an office in Monrovia. We support and work with several local partner organisations, including LIWEN, to promote women’s equal participation in society. Read more about our work in Liberia »