The UN Women Country Representative to Liberia, Madam Marie Goreth-Nizigama has called on the Government of Liberia and other stakeholders to ensure zero tolerance to violence against women and girls and uphold equal participation of women in politics and decision-making.
Madam Nizigama also called on the Legislature to adopt the revision of the country’s elections laws, making specific reference to the proposal for 30% quota for women.
She made these assertions Thursday, 18 March, during Liberia’s organized side-event ahead on the United Nations’ 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 65), held at the Ministry of Gender Conference Room, Ministerial Complex in Congo Town.
The event was held under the theme: “The Liberian Experience: Women sharing experiences on innovative ways of addressing violence against women and girls in achieving gender equality.”
According to Madam Nizigama, Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved without the empowerment of women and girls and without enhancing gender equality.
She also called on political parties to propagate the protocols on violence against women in politics and endorse same to operationalize their utility and demonstrate commitment to zero tolerance to violence, discrimination and abuse of women and girls, leaving no one behind in Liberia.
The UN Women Country Rep commended President George Weah and First Lady Clar Marie Weah for championing the gender agenda, emphasizing that the women continue to count on them to ensure women in politics are protected and not violated.
Speaking further, Madam Nizigama added that the theme for this year’s CSW is in line with the Beijing Platform for Action and CEDAW which emphasize women’s equal participate in public office and decision-making, stressing that women represent half of the Liberian polulation and yet they are still grossly underrepresented in politics, leadership and decision-making positions which Liberia ranks 151 out of 193 globally in female representation in parliament.
“Violence against women is a gross violation of women’s rights and negatively affects women’s general well-being, prevents them from fully participating in society and policy ideas. The effects of violence are long-lasting and devasting not only to women but to societies that allow it to happen. The playing field is not equal as witnessed by increased incidences of violence against women in political life and elections which deliberately threaten women from participating,” she emphasized.
Madam Nizigama noted that the culture of impunity of perpetrators of violence and unclear redress procedures and the absence of public data on reported cases of violence normalizes the culture of violence.
She then commended the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, National Elections Commission (NEC), other ministries and agencies and commissions, as well as civil society organizations and women’s movements for working tirelessly toward the progress made in the fight against domestic violence, as well as the struggle for land rights and local acts, policies such as the gender responsive planning and budgeting and national action plans on UNSCR 1325 for promoting gender equality, stressing that the implementation and enforcement of these is the next step required.
She expressed appreciation for the women of Liberia for what she called the women solidarity to support Gbarpolu’s female candidate, Botoe Kanneh in the December 8, 2020 midterm senatorial election, and also for showing unity and solidarity in engaging the Legislature and pushing for the passage of the proposes law seeking 30% quota for women.
For her part, Minister of Gender, Mrs. Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr disclosed that significant gain has been made despite the tremendous challenges women continue to face globally in attaining gender equality, emphasizing that the Government of Liberia and other important actors have made some level of progress in ensuring women’s participation and the provision of empowerment opportunities for women.
“As we celebrate this side-event today, I must say to you that the gains we have made, though significant, still remain insufficient. The barriers that prevent effective participation of women in the economy and in political decision-making still persist, thereby widening the gap of gender inequalities,” she told the gathering of predominant females.
She added, “Though we have been able to pose a tough challenge to our barriers by producing some outstanding women leaders, under-representation of women at all levels of decision-making, gender mainstreaming, physical violence against female candidates during elections, statutory legal provision, limited education and the lack of access to funds are some of the many issues which are still posing a threat to women’s political particiapation and leadership.”
Minister Saydee-Tarr stressed that the issues of women, girls and children remain a priority for the Government of Liberia, adding that government has been working tirelessly with support from partners to address, effectively address such issues by providing business skills training and the establishment of village saving loans to women living in rural areas targerting thousands of women, and providing social cash transfer to 3,451 beneficiaries in Maryland and Grand Kru Counties of which women accounted for 81.72% (2,820).
T Minister of Gender disclosed that government has launched the 50 Million African Women Speak Platform, a digital platform that she said can be used by women entrepreneurs to exchange ideas, foster peer-to-peer learning, monitoring and the sharing of information and knowledge, enabling access to financial services and market opportunities between urban and rural communities and across borders.
She used the occasion to applaud President Weah and First Lady Clar, including partners, actors and the women of Liberia for their resilience and commitment in fighting to put an end to all violence against women and girls as well as promoting women’s full and effective participation in decision-making in public life and the empowerment of women and girls, emphasizing that these are paramount for sustainable growth and development.
The Liberia organized side-event of CSW-65 was well attended by women from diverse backgrounds across Liberia.
The women were afforded the opportunity to share their experiences on problems affecting women in Liberia and what can be the way forward to solving such problems.
Serving as panelists were, Atty. Margaret Nigba, Executive Director of Her Voice Liberia – she spoke on the topic: “Elimination of violence against women and girls”, while the Executive Director of Liberia Crusaders for Peace, Cultural Ambassador Juli Endee, spoke on the topic: “Empowerment of women and girls and representative,” and Rosana Schaack, Chairperson of the Women Legislative Caucus of Liberia, spoke on the topic: “Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life.”
Leila B. Gbati writes