“COVID-19 Has Created a Setback to Children’s Livelihood”

Madam Laila O. Gad, Country Representative of the United Nations National Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Liberia.

-- Says UNICEF Representative to Liberia

The head of the United Nations National Children's Fund (UNICEF), Laila O. Gad, says the COVID-19 pandemic has created a setback to children's livelihood in Liberia.

She said the pandemic has impeded children's education, health, and protection from violence. 

“There has been some progress that has been made in health and education, but we also know that after COVID-19 there have been some setbacks to the situation of children,” she said.

Madam Gad made the statement at the lighting of the ministerial Complex on Friday, November 19, 2021, in commemoration of this year's World Children’s Day. 

“This light is the symbolic shining of light on the situation of children that things cannot remain the same as they were in the past across the world,” madam Gad said.

According to her, the significance of the lights is to call the attention of the government of Liberia to listen to the voices of children and issues affecting them. 

“We want to shine lights on the situation of children. We still have a lot of work to do together to improve health, provide quality education to protect children from violence,” she said.

November 20th is a day set aside annually by the United Nations General Assembly to promote, advocate and celebrate the rights of kids and allow them to grow healthy and become educated citizens.

The global theme for this year's celebration is: ‘A Better Future for Every Child, Kids Take Over,’ while Liberia is celebrating under the National theme: ‘Children Taking Over, A Hope for Liberia's Future’.

In Liberia, UNICEF is partnering with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP) and the Liberia National Children Representative Forum (LNCRF) to resound the George M. Weah Administration’s commitment to protecting the lives and welfare of children, especially ending all forms of violence against children, and inspiring them to advocate for their rights.

The celebration began on Friday, November 19, 2021, with the lighting of the Ministerial Complex in Monrovia by the Children of Liberia with support from UNICEF. 

On Monday, November 22, 2021, the children were allowed to proxy or sit in temporarily as legislators at the National legislature, at which time, they held deliberations on the passage of the Children Rights Law amongst other issues confronting their wellbeing. 

Whilst on Tuesday, November 23, an official indoor program climaxing the celebration of the World Children's Day took place at the theatre of the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, with the children taking over the entire program.

Lydia Mai Sherman, Deputy Minister for children and Social Protect, said as it is globally observed, children across the world including Liberia will be allowed to take over in high-profiled roles in prominent areas to include: the media, legislature, business community, sports, and entertainment normally held by adults to shine a spotlight on issues that matter to them. 

Also, schools, public buildings, and offices of child protection agencies (local and international) in and around Liberia, and the world will light up BLUE during the observance of the day to show support for child rights.

For his part, Joel U. K Gray, Chairperson of the Children's Parliament thanked UNICEF and the Ministry of Gender for their tireless effort in making sure that they seek the welfare of children. "As we observed this day we are excited for the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Gender and partners for supporting this day," he said.

According to him, children will assemble and discuss issues that are affecting them in society including the amendment of the Children's law. "We will discuss ills within the law and come up with recommendations," Gray said.