As part of the Spotlight Initiative Project, medica Liberia, with funding from the European Union (EU), has climaxed a one-day Advocacy Strategy Validation workshop in Monrovia.
The objective of the training, according to the organizers, was to validate the action plan that will guide the coordination bodies’ advocate and mainstream Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV), Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment (GEWE) in response to Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) in county development processes fund.
The one day event also looked at Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and Harmful Traditional Practices (HP), promoting access to Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights services (SRHR) for women and girls at the county levels.
The training, which was very interactive, brought together County Development Superintendents, County Gender Coordinators, and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from the five Spotlight counties, including Montserrado, Cape Mount, Nimba, Grand Gedeh, and Lofa.
The convening is one of several activities implemented by medica Liberia under the Spotlight Initiative Project, entitled: “Strengthening Women's Rights Advocates Capacities to Support the Integration of Ending Violence Against Women and Girls into the County Development Agenda targeting key stakeholders.”
At the opening of the day-long meeting, Serveh Y. Flomo, Project Assistant, disclosed that the project started in 2022, with engagements with the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), and the Ministry of Finance Development Planning (MFDP), Ministry of Gender Social Protection (MOGSP). “We met with various Superintendents [as well as] UNDP, among other partners, and this was in September. Later on, we had training in the counties. This training will also look at the revision of county development plans and processes with county authorities and CSOs.
Madam Flomo also named some of Medica’s activities as saying “we convened a two day training from November 4-5, 2022 and the training brought together eight selected CSOs from five Spotlight Counties, Grand Gedeh, Gender Coordinators and Development Superintendents.”
The project also provides financial support to eight women rights groups. The selection process was coordinated through a request for submission of concept notes. The call for proposal was shared via emails only with organizations that attended the training provided for the 200 in five counties as reported above.
The training she said was, however, reviewing the current development plans and processes that the counties are using, and developing gender mainstreaming strategies to integrate Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (EVAWG) into development plans.
Sendra Okoed, Lead Facilitator at the training, presented the roadmap for the development of the 2nd Generation County Development Agenda (CDA) that will replace the first which expired in 2012. The roadmap further placed on the mobilization and methodology implored for the development of the 2nd generation of CDAs.
Executive Director for the Lofa Women Network Liberia, Annie Woyea, said if the battle against harmful traditional practices must stop there is a need to train, empower them. “From my experience over the years as a Civil Society Organization (CSO) worker in Lofa county, I have come to realized that if we must advocate and ask for the abolishment of harmful practice and all forms of violence against women, then we have to get down to the people who are fully involve, I mean the zoes, elders chiefs etc.”
Miss. Woyea, with a lot of in women advocacy, alo thinks that it is a likelihood of those who are into such for decades now, and as such if they must leave it then they should also be empowered, train and build their captivity. According to her, the awareness is not actually making much impact because “we are not getting down to the root cause of the problems.”
As a result of this, she said, “We find out that after a few times they will calm down and later you see them going about doing the same thing, it is not helping us at all. “
It may be recalled a few years ago that the government placed a moratorium on these practices, but this appears as just a policy issue and not a law.
She however suggests that programs should be put in place that will address the direct needs of those involved.
She emphasized that these people need to be trained, build their capacity and empower them to be able t dervert from going into the bushes to now become engaging in other livelihood activities that will sustain their families.
She also believes that in order to discourage participants who want to take part in such practice, let there be training on the positive impact of abolishing harmful practices.
“If we must talk about reproductive issues then we must also be able to see how people are leaving from the stage of survival to independence,” she stated.
Betty B. Doh, Assistant Superintendent for Development for Grand Gedeh county, acknowledged that harmful traditional practices has been an age-old thing, and that over the years there has been a lot of adwardness and because of that it has gone down to a lower level.
Now we are discussing how these people can go away from these harmful traditional practices. We are talking about doing it at a decentralized level.