Liberia: UN Women Highlights the Urgency of Funding VAWG Prevention

As the 16 Days of Activism campaign progresses, Comfort Lamptey, UN Women Country Representative, has emphasized the crucial need for financing the prevention of violence against women and girls (VAWG). Lamptey stressed that investing significantly and comprehensively in VAWG prevention programs can have a transformative impact on the lives of women and girls.

She addressed this issue at a one-day partners’ café meeting in Sinkor focusing on gender-based violence. Lamptey underlined that such investment is not only crucial for addressing immediate concerns but also aligns with the country's goal of achieving gender equality by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

However, she also expressed concern over the limited financial commitments to VAWG prevention.

“Nonetheless, financial commitments to VAWG prevention remain limited,” she said. “To fully prevent SGBV, various actions need to be taken, including financing the implementation of effective public and private sector laws, policies, and strategies; stronger support to women-led organizations and movements to enable them to actively advocate and mobilize for normative and structural change; and investing in homegrown solutions for transforming gendered norms at the root of SGBV.”

To truly tackle gender-based violence, Lamptey emphasized the need for various measures such as financing the effective implementation of laws, policies, and strategies in both public and private sectors, providing stronger support to women-led organizations and movements to advocate for normative and structural change, and investing in homegrown solutions to address the underlying gender norms contributing to the issue.

As the world confronts diverse challenges on the path to gender equality, UN Women continues to spearhead efforts in advocating for investments and transparency in the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) globally.

Lamptey shared insights from the UN Women’s Gender Snapshot 2023 report, which highlights the staggering statistic that 245 million women and girls still face physical and/or sexual violence from their intimate partners annually. She also pointed out that 86 percent of women and girls reside in countries without substantial legal protections against violence or where data is unavailable.

The prevalence of intimate partner violence in Liberia is alarming, with 60 percent of women aged 15-49 reporting experiencing physical violence and 33 percent facing physical violence within the past year as of 2019 (DHS 2019-20). The UN Women boss warned that without ambitious investments to scale up prevention programs, implement effective policies, and provide support services to address violence against women and girls, countries will fail to meet the target of ending gender-based violence by 2030.

Acknowledging the human, developmental, and economic costs associated with SGBV, Lamptey stressed that the current level of investments to address VAWG falls short globally, including in Liberia.

She called for increased targeted allocations within the Liberia national budget and from partner funding to effectively tackle VAWG, emphasizing the significance of this year's theme for the 16 Days of Activism campaign, highlighting its vital role in eradicating the scourge of gender-based violence.

She urged all stakeholders, including the government, civil society, women's rights organizations, organizations working with men and boys, and the private sector, to step up and support various prevention strategies to combat GBV.

Lamptey is hopeful that knowledge-sharing across sectors, including the government of Liberia, private sector entities, international donors, and civil society, along with successful strategies implemented in other African countries, would help achieve these objectives.

Williametta Saydee-Tarr, Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, expressed her gratitude for participating in the meeting and the focus on advancing efforts to combat SGBV.

She commended UN Women and other partners for their dedication to this cause and highlighted the crucial role of financing from the government of Liberia in contributing to their success.

Tarr stressed the importance of giving full support to the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, emphasizing its round-the-clock commitment to addressing the needs of individuals affected by gender-based violence. 

“So for us at the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, our wish is that this work continues, and that seriousness is attached to our work. I always tell my colleagues at the Ministry of Finance that we are a ministry that deals with human beings, not a night ministry. We are a 24/7 ministry, so there is a need to fully support us,” she said.

Meanwhile, the meeting was attended by representatives from diplomatic corps, Ecobank, UBA, among others.