The Executive Director of Kids Educational Engagement Project (KEEP), Brenda B. Moore has launched a new book aimed at educating young students and parents on gender and social norms despite being taboo over the years in Liberia.
The book titled “Free to Be Me” was launched recently at the Young Women’s Christian Association of Liberia (YWCA), which was graced by students, parents, OXFAM Liberia, Ministry of Education officials, and other partners.
The book, “Free to Be Me” explains sex, Gender, and societal norms that provide a clear explanations to young students and afford them the opportunity to talk about their body parts in private and public despite society frowning on the issue.
Discussions related to sex, gender, and social norms have been forbidden, both with educated and uneducated parents and guardians, and continue to create serious disadvantages for young children and students in particular. “As someone who loves reading and is active in promoting reading in Liberia, I have taken the renewed passion in accelerating and stimulating difficult conversations in our society, especially with children,” Mrs. Moore said.
Mrs. Moore said that writing the book was educational for her and she was grateful that she ventured into doing that to help students understand gender and social norms and will continue to do more.
She noted that change does not happen overnight but will take the gradual process that will involve having discussions and engaging others before it happens. She praised all the partners from the Ministry of Education, OXFAM, and others who helped her in achieving her dreams of educating Liberian kids and ensuring that they understand their body parts, stating “the kids need to do at all times what they understand and be safe.”
Launching the book, the Assistant Minister for Early Childhood Education at the Ministry of Education, Madam Felecia Doe-Somah, said the book launch was part of history-making and the lifting up of young Liberians to help educate society.
“In the last couple of months, you have done a lot to make Liberia shine educationally. I have been part of your activities and I can see your passion and congratulations. The Ministry of Education appreciates your work,” Madam Doe-Somah told Mrs. Moore.
Madam Doe-Somah said she was elated by the title of the book and the illustrations therein which depict freedom, stating “this book will help parents, students and teachers and I am now recommending that schools administrators use this book at Parents and Teachers Association meetings.”
She added: “We need to use this book in meetings where we can sit in a circle and talk about it. This book will help parents to learn to work with the children and the teachers will get the education and awareness so that everybody has some freedom and respect for what they want to do or who they want to be in society and not frowning at a girl child for playing football or boy for helping to wash the dishes.”
Lisa Kindervater of OXFAM expressed gratitude to KEEP for the good work in advancing gender transformative issues in Liberia.
“The book is transformative and challenges unequal power relations and male privilege and breaks it down so that people can understand. The ways we socialize our boys and girls are the root cause of violence and inequality. So, to be able to help unlearn some of those harmful norms at the young, formative ages, when those things are solidified in the brains, is important,” Madam Kindervater said.