Liberia: Chief Zanzan Karwor Orders Halt to FGM Practice

Zanzan Karwor, head, National Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia 

.... As of Jan. 2023

The National Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia (NACCEL) has committed to close all bush schools and stop the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Montserrado County in January 2023.

The Chairperson of NACCEL, Chief Zanzan Karwor made the commitment during the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence in Sonkay Town, Montserrado County on November 25.

Following the pronouncement, Karwor called on Chief Zoe (traditional practitioner) Massa Kandakai and the Paramount Chief, Stephen Goba, to ensure that all Zoes within the Montserrado County surrender all documents and practicing implements in preparation for the official traditional ceremony to abolish the practice of FGM in early January 2023.

Once the order is given in January next year, anyone challenging his authority will face disciplinary action from the NACCEL.  The Chief reiterated NACCEL’s commitment to ending FGM as evidenced by pronouncements of the three-year ban on FGM in the country. He also emphasized the importance of providing alternative economic livelihood programs for traditional practitioners in the 11 FGM-practicing counties. 

During her keynote address, the Vice President of Liberia, Jewel Howard Taylor called on NACCEL’s Karwor to engage the legislature and the international community to ensure the speedy passage of the FGM bill into law. Liberia is one of only three countries in West Africa that has yet to outlaw the practice of FGM. 

The Vice President also presented a token to Karwor and requested him to visit all the Counties where FGM is still being practiced and ask traditional practitioners to stop the practice.

This year’s 16 days campaign is being held under the global theme - “UNITE! Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls” and the national theme “With One Voice, Let’s End Violence Against Women, Girls and Children.” The campaign runs from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, until December 10, Human Rights Day. 

The campaign launch event was attended by several dignitaries including special  guest, Jaha Dukureh, the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for Africa on ending FGM and child marriage, who served as key launcher of 16 days campaign; Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Honourable Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr who welcomed guests, members of the Diplomatic Corp, Government officials, civil society and traditional leaders from various counties; and Ms. Comfort Lamptey, UN Women Representative and Acting UN Resident Coordinator who delivered a special message from UN Secretary General.