UN Women's Deputy Executive Director, Asa Regnér, praised the Liberian government for its considerable strides in the promotion and protection of the rights of women and girls.
“When it comes to women and girls' rights and the situation of gender equality in this country which is the focus of UN Women, it seems to me that Liberia has made important progress,” she said.
Regnér, who doubles as the assistant secretary-general of UN Women, is on a visiting tour to enhance and reaffirm UN Women's support for the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in Liberia.
During her stay, Regnér visited the vocational and heritage center in Todee, rural Montserrado County built by UN Women as part of the Spotlight Initiative of the European Union and the government of Liberia. UN Women is creating four vocational and heritage centers in four counties to offer traditional practitioners alternative economic livelihood alternatives.
The facilities function as specialized learning facilities where young women and girls may pick up new skills that will help them find an alternative to Female Genital Mutilation as a source of income.
“It is important to work towards the elimination of any harmful practices against women and girls,’’ said Regnér. Regnér was accompanied by the UN Women Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Ms. Oulimata Sarr. Also in attendance were the Resident Coordinator for UN Liberia, Niels Scott, UN Women Country Representative for Liberia, Comfort Lamptey, and Deputy Country Representative, Pamela Mkwamba.
She held several strategic engagement meetings with several high-level officials and women’s groups, some of whom are beneficiaries of UN Women's interventions in Liberia.
Some of the high-level officials that Regnér met include the Vice President of Liberia, Jewel Howard Taylor; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah; Deputy Minister of Justice, Nyanti Tuan; Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Williametta Saydee Tarr; and Minister of Internal Affairs, Varney Sirleaf. Ms. Regnér also had a chance to meet the UN Country Team and other development partners.
She emphasized UN Women’s commitment to promote gender equality and women empowerment in Liberia. Regnér noted that Liberia has made important strides to advance the rights of women and girls over the past two decades through legislation reforms and targeted programmes to eradicate discriminatory barriers and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, despite challenges.
Regnér while in Liberia had an opportunity to visit the vocational and heritage center in Todee in Montserrado County constructed by UN Women under the European Union, and the Government of Liberia Spotlight Initiative.
And she also interacted with traditional practitioners who formerly practiced female genital mutilation but are now beneficiaries of the alternative economic livelihood program. At least 300 traditional practitioners have benefitted from the alternative economic livelihood programme, which was launched in December 2019 under the Spotlight Initiative.
Although milestones have been achieved, there has been little progress in women’s political participation, leadership, and representation in national and local governance. The percentage of women in the legislature has fallen from over 16 percent in 2006 to less than 11 percent currently. She called upon the national leadership and all stakeholders to foster a common agenda to promote women’s political participation and take advantage of the 30 percent gender quota for political party candidates, as Liberia is preparing for the 2023 elections.
The UN Women Deputy Executive Director was also delighted to meet various women’s groups and young women leaders, among others to discuss opportunities for enhancing women’s participation in politics and leadership. Ms. Regnér also applauded the contributions made to peace building, justice, and conflict resolution by members of the Fish market women’s peace hut, who shared their experience of how they are contributing.