IRC, Partners Launch New “My Watchman” App to Report SGBV

 Second from left, IRC Country Director Cooper, Mr. Tehoungue of the Family Health Division of the Ministry of Health, CEO Klark of “My Watchman App” chairman of Chicken Soup Factory Mr. Nyango and far right is executive director of COWAIL

The International Rescue Committee (IRC), in collaboration with partners, has launched “My Watchman App” to help support the tracking and timely reporting of Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) cases in Montserrado County.

The “My Watchman App” is a new mobile application developed in 2014 by a group of young Liberians with a 24-hour monitoring of full-service including Gender-Based Violence Hotline (SGBV) & Emergency Response Services, Fire Emergency Response Services and Medical Emergency Response Services.

With funding from Irish Aid, the IRC and its implementing partner, the Coalition of Women Against Gender-Based Violence (COWAIL) under the project, “Raising Community Voices or (RCV)”, collaborates with My Watchman™ App to launch this project that seeks to strengthen GBV reporting mechanism.

The program was launched on Tuesday, July 27, 2021 in Chicken Soup Factory, Gardnersville and is expected to be launched simultaneously in four other communities in Montserrado County, targeting 150 young women and girls.

Country Director of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Faith A. Cooper, expressed IRC’s excitement about the new partnership with “My Watchman,” which will help to improve the response to GBV in Liberia.

“We have so many women and girls who are survivors of gender based violence. We have come so we can partner and look at ways that we can effectively protect our people. This is not just partners, both local and international, taking actions but community dwellers,” Madam Cooper said. 

Madam Cooper said the new initiative aims to also equip community dwellers with tools that can help them respond to gender based violence in a timely manner, including the new app.

Madam Cooper said community dwellers must support efforts in the fight against gender based violence through working with the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection and other partners, as no single entity can succeed alone.

“This is why IRC seeks to partner in an effort to prevent and respond to gender based violence. IRC believes that the solution to ending GBV is at the community level because it’s the place the problem is, therefore solving the problem must be done at the community level,” Madam Cooper said. 

She said the IRC is grateful to Irish Aid for the support which has been a long standing partner, sponsor and donor of the IRC’s gender based violence component. 

Madam Cooper said she has developed more interest in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which talks about well-being, elimination of poverty, equal education.

“Goal five (5) tells us that in order to see progress in our various countries, prosper as a nation and in order for us to develop, we must achieve gender equality,” Madam Cooper said.

Madam Cooper said if a person is a victim of rape and sexual abuse or assault, a break a person down emotionally, mentally, physically and divvies one's body, stating “there is no way that Liberia can prosper if gender based violence is on the increase.” 

She emphasized that the private sector is critically important as it drives the society. Today, I’m actually impressed by this app because it helps one to easily report things happening in the community, including pictures and you will automatically get help.

“You need to think about how many times you see something happening and you don’t know who to call. Sometimes, you even think about your own life. With this app, you can now stand in a corner and confidentially send a message and ask for help, which is a great idea for Liberia,” Madam Cooper said. 

The founder and Chief Executive Officer of the My Watchman App, Oliver W. Klark, Jr., said it is estimated that one in three women will experience sexual or physical  violence in their lifetime. 

Mr. Klark said the My Watchman™ App provides a Hotline & Emergency Response Service that enables survivors of GBV and other community members, when in a vulnerable position, to get access to critical emergency response services by triggering the app.

He said users of the APP will be  able to report incidences at the same time capturing and storing crucial data  including location, data, time and video/images where applicable (images and  videos are captured by the responder(s)) 

Mr. Klark said each participant will be equipped with the app and trained on how to  utilize the My Watchman™ emergency response app to report security threats, fire disasters and medical emergencies across communities in Liberia.

Mr. Klark said the My Watchman™ SGBV hotline is monitored by a dedicated team, trained in handling every call with empathy and with the highest level of Privacy and confidentiality.

The executive director of the Coalition of Women Against Gender-Based Violence (COWAIL), Margaret Sleyon, said she believes that the new program will help greatly, while praying that the app be decentralized into other communities.

William T. K. Nyango, chairman of the Chicken Soup Factory community, lauded IRC and partners for the initiative. He calls on the IRC to always take said program to the community.

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