By Jerromie S. Walters

As the observance of the 16Days of Activism remains in full swing, on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, UN Women Liberia, held a Partners Café to reflect on investment packages for preventing #SGBV in Liberia, at Royal Grand Hotel in Sinkor, Tubman Boulevard, Liberia.

The gender related occasion was attended by private and development partners, the Government of Liberia and UN in Liberia, and afforded them a space to strategize ways and means of investment in sexual and gender based violence, and reflect on their shared goal of investing and committing resources to prevent SGBV.

During a panel discussion amongst human rights defenders and diplomats at the engagement, the panelists noted the significance of Investment in financial and non financial means to combat s GBV. They are convinced that every investment is a step in the right direction. “We are making process, but we are far from over the process.”

They hope to achieve more coordinated agenda and approach, as well as the Intervention of private sector. 

In a remark eat the event, Madam Comfort Lamptey, UN Women Liberia Country Representative, stressed the essentiality of  adequate investment in the prevention of gender based violence.

To fully prevent sexual and gender based violence in Liberia, she recommends- “Various actions need to be taken, including financing the implementation of effective public and private sector laws, policies, and strategies; stronger support to women-led organizations and movements to enable them to actively advocate and mobilize for normative and structural change; and investing in homegrown solutions for transforming gendered norms at the root of SGBV.”

In her opinion, adequate investment in SGBV prevention related initiatives puts an apt impact on women and girls. She says it’s also crucial because it concurs with Liberia’s gender equality  and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

However, she believes the issue of investment in SGBV prevention in Liberia is on a different trend, as much has not been done. 

I from her end- Liberia’s Gender Minister Williamina Saydee-Tarr,  highlighted the significance of more resources being pumped into the prevention of sexual and gender based violence. This, she says can basically be achieved through partnerships.

Minister Saydee-Tarr referenced major strives achieved by the current administration over the last five years, including the establishment of call center,  availability of DNA machine, and many more.  As Liberians rapidly approach the climax of this administration, she’s hoping that the work continues at the Ministry. As an entity that serves the people, she says It’s important that support is given to the institution throughout.

She thanked the government’s partners and the government and emphasized that without their support, they wouldn’t have achieved what they achieved over the last five to six years. As liberia celebrates the 16Days of activism, she’s hopeful that it will afford the need to pay attention to the change that needs to happen and support that needs to come in.

Also at the occasion, United Nations Resident Coordinator Clement  Kugala Peter Lusaba, while in a remark, noted that the entry point for the UN system has been the spotlight initiative, a project through which they have achieved a lot in ending SGBV. 

Under the Spotlight initiative, he pointed out several initiatives they initiated, including- the adoption of the domestic violence act, capacity building trainings, comprehensive anti GBV strategy, media training on gender sensitive reporting, constriction of the alternative heritage centers in four counties (Nimba, Lofa, and Cale Mount) and many others.!Going forward, he says there should be continuity by the incoming government. This is because he believes there’s a lot more to be done.

From his end, Augustine Flomo, Deputy Minister of Economic Management at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, flagged the importance of investment in the campaign against SGBV, and recommended the need for a fiscal space.  He sees the inclusion of the fight to curb SGBV in the national treasure as a paramount step in the campaign to end SGBV.. 

Jeroen Witkamp, Head of Coorporation, of the European Union Delegation to Liberia, stressed the aptness of coordination between government and donors, including the EU.

To curb or end SGBV, he believes that the role of the private sector remains crucial. The Head of Coorporation, of the European Union Delegation to Liberia, emphasized the need for male allies, to enable men take the stand to defend Women’s rights.

The Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection (MoGC&SP), last weekend confirmed that it has recorded over 2,109 GBV cases beginning January 1st,  to August 30, 2023 from across Liberia. 

Of those cases, Montserrado (1223), Nimba (315), Lofa (237), and Grand Cape Mount County 1(83) reporting the highest number of cases this year. Gender Minister Sayde-Tarr, during last weekend news conference acknowledged that 68.5% or 1,446 cases account for rape, gang rape and sodomy affecting 68% of survivors under the age of 18 years.

In June of this year, Mamena Kai, the Acting Deputy Minister for Children and Social Protection at the Ministry of Gender, disclosed that for the first quarter in 2023, the Ministry recorded 759 sexual and gender based violence cases in Liberia. She made the disclosure while addressing the Ministry of Information Culture Affairs and Tourism regular Thursdays’ press briefing.

According to the young Minister, the total number of cases the Ministry recorded for the first quarter, (January – March) is 759 cases. Concisely, she said in January they recorded 310, in February they recorded 309, and in March, they recorded 140 SGBV cases.

The recent UN Women engagement was held within the period of the 16Days of Activism. The 16Days of Activism was launched over the weekend in Paynesville. It is a global campaign rooted in the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute, advocating for an end to Gender-Based Violence.