Liberia: LIFLEA, GSSNT Want Male Counterparts in Security Sector Treat Women with Dignity, Others

Another conference aims at raising awareness takes place today in Monrovia

Women in the security sector might not be the regular public talkers about the day to day prevailing circumstances, including those allegedly inflicted upon them by their fellow male counterparts; they are yearning and wishing for safe working environments where they expect to be treated with dignity and respect.

Advocating for the fair and equal treatment of female security personnel at all levels within the Liberia National Police (LNP), the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) as well as the Liberia National Fire Service (LNFS), the Liberia Female Law Enforcement Association (LIFLEA) and the Gender Security Sector National Taskforce (GSSNT), two civil society organizations within the security apparatus are working together to ensure that women are happy at their respective areas of assignment.

In a joint statement on Monday December 4, Madam Maude M. Somah and Cllr. Asatu Bah-Kenneth, Coordinators of the GSSNT and LIFLEA, respectively, re-emphasized concerns affecting women in the security sector, including harassment, intimidation, as well as limited opportunities for promotion, something the two coordinators reaffirm commitments to work towards the prevention of violence against women in the security sector.

Somah (Mrs.) is the director of press and public affairs at the Ministry of Justice while Asatu Bah-Kenneth (Mrs.) is the Deputy Commissioner General for Naturalization at the Liberia Immigration Service. 

The both astute women made their joint statement delivery at LIS headquarters and highlighted that women in the security sector are invaluable assets to sustainable peace and stability; and that their contributions, sacrifice, dedication, and hard work should not be overlooked, but rather celebrated and appreciated through meaningful actions.

Madam Bah-Kenneth who is coordinating the operations of LIFLEA as she also serves her role as deputy commissioner for naturalization at LIS, noted that the advocacy for women is not intended to grant them undue opportunities or privileges but rather ensuring that qualified women get equal opportunities as men and be given the chance to prove themselves.

“We are not saying that a woman should be promoted or given a high rank simply because she is beautiful. I am beautiful but I have not come thus far in my professional life in the security sector because of my beauty but my qualifications and my ability to deliver on the job,” she said.

She said there are numerous reports (not mentioned) about alleged sexual harassment, intimidation and denial of certain opportunities to women simply because of their sex or gender.

Somah, in addition to her colleague’s points, stressed that GSSNT is doing all it can along with LIFLEA and other partners to ensure that more women are given better skills in order to merit the available opportunities usually seized by men because of more advanced education or gender issues.

“This year, as Liberia observes the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, LIFLEA and GSSNT jointly challenge the Government, development partners, and civil society to commit towards taking bold and deliberate steps and making investments to promote the interests and wellbeing of women in the security sector, especially against discrimination, intimidation, harassment, and all forms of abuse,” she said.

LIFLEA was established to advocate for female law enforcement officers by advancing institutional responsiveness, policies, and fostering the environment for gender mainstreaming within the Liberia law enforcement sector. Similarly, GSSNT is a nationally recognized taskforce with the mandate to build synergies and promote efforts to ensure that the Liberia security sector remains an inclusive sector that can sustain peace in Liberia and enable continued participation of women in the planning, decision-making, and implementation of initiatives in the security sector.

The two organizations draw on the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 which focuses on Women, Peace, and Security and affirms that peace and security efforts are more sustainable when women are equal partners in the prevention of violent conflict, the delivery of relief and recovery efforts, and in the forging of lasting peace.

Collectively, LIFLEA and GSSNT call on stakeholders to show how much they care about ending violence against women and girls by sharing the actions that they are taking to create a nation free from violence towards women. They also call on the Government of Liberia to make commitments towards investing in gender-based violence prevention efforts.

LIFLEA and GSSNT are supported by the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) and the United States Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) under the “Strengthening Gender Equality in Liberia’s Security Sector” (SEGESS) project. The project works to ensure that women officers in the security sector have adequate skills and technical knowledge to improve their capacity, enhance their work efficiency, and accelerate their growth in the security sector.

In an effort to widen the scope of awareness on the need for male counterparts to  engender delivery of respect and dignity for their fellow female counterparts, the two organizations yesterday December 6 held  a conference in Monrovia to speak more on the issues affecting women in the security sector and seek suggestions and support to ameliorate the challenges.