Who is Muna Arabella Weah Weah?
Muna Arabella Weah Weah is a young and dynamic female leader in her late twenties. Born in the noble city of Harbel, Margibi County, in the Republic of Liberia. She is a proud mother, wife, founder and executive director of ATINA Women Initiative founded in 2015, and a Mid-level Manager at Lonestar MTN in Liberia.
Muna A. Weah is a holder of a BBA in Accounting (Hon), from the Stella Maris Polytechnic, Monrovia, Liberia. She also has a certificate from the West African Examination Council (WAEC). To complement her skills in accounting and finance, she has done targeted skills training in several softwares like: Peachtree Accounting Software, QuickBooks, Gwimmo Fixed Assets Software, Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains Accounting Software (MGP), Advanced Excel etc. She has received an award as USAID-LTTP Student of the Year, “Education in Liberia”
Achievements and Impact in the society
Through her work at ATINA Women Initiative, together with her team, she trained over 200 single mothers, underprivileged women and girls in livelihood skills, small business management and micro-finance. Through these initiatives they are lifting women out of poverty and empowering them to take care of their families and send their children to school. Her greatest accomplishment in promoting democracy and development in her community can be seen in the over 200 women whose lives have been transformed through the ATINA Women Initiative. The number of single mothers and victims of domestic violence she has advocated for and gotten justice and reparation. The number of children that are now in school because they provided their mothers micro loan to start their small businesses and become bread winners for their families.
As mentioned earlier on, Muna is the founder and executive director of ATINA Women Initiative. She serves in a middle manager position at the MTN Liberia Company as a fixed asset administrator. She is a role model and mentor to young women in her community and church. She is very passionate about politics because she strongly believes that women have the potential to engender positive and lasting change in their communities once they are empowered. More women in political positions promote tangible and lasting solutions to challenges faced by marginalized women and girls in society. Muna also believes that Political leadership, targeted at serving the community and meeting the needs of citizens is her calling and passion, and she is ready to die for it.
Strategizing for Effective Women Political Participation.
Living in a male dominated political society where men are the movers and shakers of politics and women political participation is met with severe resistance from society, male counterparts and political institutions undermine democratic growth. These hurdles hindering women political participation are coupled with societal stereotypes, dwindling economic conditions of women and traditional barriers, which suffocate their political sojourn.
To Muna, a winning strategy for women political engagement can be summarized into these five pillars, namely: Awareness, advocacy, economic independence, capacity building and building constituencies. She is convicted that a careful implementation of these pillars will enable women compete in the largely male-dominated political atmosphere.
Muna’s Perspective on Women’s Participation in Africa’s Development
It is a truism to say the least that the future development of Africa cannot be fully achieved without women leadership. There is an old African adage that says, “If you educate a man, you have educated an individual but if you educate a woman, you have educated a community, you have educated a nation.” It is a common scenario in Africa for men, even the most educated of them to abandon their wives and children, which ruins their chances of acquiring education and contributing to society. On the other hand, it is unthinkable to see an educated woman who would rather abandon her children for her personal endeavors. In fact an educated woman does not only educate her children, she also dares to educate her neighbor’s children. Therefore, an educated woman remains an unstoppable force for good in any nation, the African continent and the world. Across Africa, women are grossly marginalized, impoverished and underrepresented. While this is true in developing countries, women have continued to shatter the “glass ceilings” and accomplish many extraordinary things as compared to their male counterpart and even more. Consider Liberia and Africa’s first female president, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and America’s Hilary Clinton, former Secretary of State and the Democratic Party presidential candidate emeritus etc. These women have contributed immensely and continue to contribute to the development of their respective country and the betterment of humanity. Thus, I strongly believe that future development of Africa cannot be achieved without women leadership.
Her Experience as an AMD Woman Fellow at the Young Women Political Leadership School (YWPLS)
There is so much potential out there, especially amongst women, and an opportunity like African Movement for Democracy (AMD) Fellowship provided me a unique chance to see first-hand and tap into such potential. It is no doubt that we live in a patriarchal society but when women are educated, empowered and exposed to new strategies and opportunities to increase their civic and political participation; they are likely to become a positive force to reckon with. This is true for the Young Political Leadership School sponsored by NED implemented by GenCED. My experience during the fellowship was like no other. I have benefitted from several trainings but the AMD fellowship at the Young Women Political Leadership School (YWPLS) afforded me one of the most rewarding and breath-taking experiences of my life as women’s rights advocate and an aspiring political women’s leader.
Where do I start? Honestly, I have so many cherished memories and lessons learned from training and likeminded colleagues during the YWPLS that I risk doing injustice by trying to summarize my experiences in just one page. However, I promise to do my uttermost best.
For me, the YWPLS was not just a training; it was a unique opportunity to meet with like minds as we explored our political diversity and mapped out critical strategies to increase our informed political and civic participation within a democratic society. During the training, I gathered critical understandings on international instruments/conventions/laws, which outlined non-discrimination and equal political rights of women; finding my support system; changing the narrative, and ensuring gender mainstreaming in policy development and implementation. The political atmosphere and quality of thoughts from our speakers cannot be beaten, and were exceptionally valuable. Hearing first-hand accounts from other women about their journey to a political life, their challenges and how they emerged ignited a new personal vision for my career goals. I emerged from this fellowship with more renewed spirit, political ambitions, new strategies, and a vibrant network. I’m more vigorous and excited to practicalize what I have learned in the upcoming political processes in Liberia.
YWPLS is the future and it would be my humble request that the AMD fellowship considers providing more of such opportunities for women as it would go a long way in addressing challenges hindering women’s civic and political participation as well as empowering women to lead their lives and make meaningful contribution to the social, economic and political growth of their country. A world without empowered women, is a world without hope for our future and that of our children’s future.