‘The Surviving Minority’, Liberian Women Hunt for Livelihood in Hard Places

By: Jeremiah Sackie Cooper Gmail:jeremiahcooper105@gmail.com

Liberia: In the heart of Liberia, amidst the rugged landscapes and crushing poverty, a silent revolution is underway. It was an adventure time for me as I began the quest to provide space for women out of the spotlight.

Reaching different places to get these women’s voices heard, I was aghast as they narrated their stories.

Here, where the echoes of war still resonate and economic opportunities are scarce, women are defying the odds, carving out a livelihood in the most unlikely of professions and contributing to the Liberian Society.

With Limited access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities including a lack of access to credit and banking services, limited social protections, and insecure access to land, along with persistent gender stereotypes and discriminatory cultural practices, the women of Liberia are willing to go extra miles to prove what they are capable of in building post-war Liberia.

To earn their rightful places in the Liberian society full of inequality, many underprivileged women have engaged in business, farming, rock crushing, and other tough jobs. Some as single mothers, while others buttressed their husbands’ efforts, they found themselves thrust into a harsh reality where survival meant embracing the grueling work.

In a country where poverty grips over six out of ten citizens, and millions live in absolute poverty, women bear the brunt of the struggle.

They are the backbone of Liberia’s economy, toiling in fields, markets, and homes to provide for their families. Despite contributing over 90% to the nation’s food crop output, they face a stark reality of earning less than their male counterparts and being sidelined in key sectors like infrastructure, public works, and public offices.

With their testimonies, one can see the determination in their faces; the eagerness to get rid of Gender discrimination is their daily prayer.

Like Ma Korto Fayiah, a single mother of five and Mary Harris, a widow rock-crushing isn’t just a job; it’s a lifeline.

For Kebbeh Massaquoi, a potato seller at Omega Market, selling is not just a means of survival but a way of life.

With some of their husbands tragically taken from them, they found themselves thrust into a harsh reality where survival meant embracing the grueling work of breaking stones, and the daily battling of the hash sun

“It is not easy,” Korto shares, her voice tinged with resilience, “we get hurt many days, but again, we have to do it because we do not have anyone to help us and our children.”

Mary Harris, a single mother of eight, epitomizes this resilience. “I am not satisfied with what I am doing,” she admits, “but I have no choice.”

Their days are a blur of pain and perseverance, relying on pain relief just to make it through. Yet, like so many others, they refuse to surrender to despair, determined to keep their children in school and provide for their daily needs.

“I beared the pain, traveling dangerous places to get my market” Kebbeh Massaquoi, added. It is difficult but I must do it to not be a liability to my husband”.

The plight of these women reflects a broader narrative of female empowerment and economic struggle in Liberia.

Despite their vital contributions to peace and stability in the post-war era, they remain trapped in a cycle of poverty and marginalization.

As the nation grapples with economic crises and social upheaval, their voices often go unheard, their needs overlooked.

But amidst the challenges, there is hope. These women are not asking for handouts; they are seeking opportunities.

They dream of a better future for themselves and their children, a future where their hard work is rewarded, and their voices are valued.

They look to the government, humanitarian organizations, and compassionate individuals for support, not as charity, but as partners in progress.

“Today if I get money, I can find a different business to do,” Kebbeh reflects, her eyes shimmering with determination, “but because nothing good to do that’s what you see some of us here.”

Their resilience is a testament to the strength of the human spirit, a reminder that even in the face of adversity, hope endures.

As Liberia charts its path forward, let us not forget the women who stand at the forefront of change, breaking barriers and defying expectations.

This is a story of survival, resilience, and above all, hope. And in their courage, we find inspiration to build a better, more inclusive future for all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *