MESSENGERS OF PEACE

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As Liberia assesses the health status of women and moves towards the implementation of the UN’s sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is an urgent need to review five basic elements with a focus on a people-centered approach and heavy investment in human social security.

Among the elements to be reviewed would be issues that directly and indirectly impact on the health conditions of women in Liberia. These issues stem from adolescent health, maternal care, to sexual and gender based violence.

In reality, majority of Liberian women do not have access to basic health facilities and most lack basic health information and education on how to take care of their health. Women’s health vulnerability is exemplified by their geographical location, the lack of autonomy in their private and sexual lives and their socio-economic status. Thus, the situation of women, according to a 2012 UNICEF Report, is compromised by a number of negative factors.

Key gender inequalities, especially as they relate to ingrained harmful traditional practices, early marriages, teenage pregnancies, sexual violence and access to water and sanitation are known to have severe effect on the health status of Liberian women.

Three days ago, April 25, the world commemorated Malaria Day and according to a US Government release from Sheila Paskman, Charge d’Affaires, US Embassy-Liberia, malaria can cause serious life threatening risks for a woman and her baby. Common problems, she went on, include maternal anemia, miscarriage, pre maturity, still birth, and low birth weight in newborns.

While we all recognize the elephant in the statistics of women in Liberia, we do not stop believing that the conditions of women in Liberia could be improved. The litmus test for us is how well we implement agenda 2030. Planet 50:50

All principal stake holders, including young people, need to ensure that our implementation of the SDGs is truly and effectively human-centered and we must not lose sight of the need to invest in human security in the daily life of women. Conflicts remain the biggest threat to human development.

One key message from volunteer peace messengers is the need to adopt a holistic and balanced approach in our efforts. Health is not merely the absence of disease and infirmity but a collective effort to improve our physical, mental and spiritual wellness. In keeping with our peace perspective on issues, an investment in the health of women in Liberia is a good investment in sustainable peace.

The health status of Liberian women is not great but there is room for improvement and the responsibility lies within us to ensure available, accessible, affordable, equitable and quality health care for women.

The dialogue on the conditions of women in Liberia may reduce but not go away. Messengers of Peace-Liberia would in review the progress made and the opportunities to improve the conditions of women. Don’t stop believing in the empowerment of women.

Until next week, when we continue our dialogue among Peace Messengers-The recipe for peace, it is Peace First, Peace above all else. May Peace prevail on earth!

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