By Franklin N. Kwenah
Authorities at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection have begun a three-day ‘all men conference’ under the theme, “Gender Equality: A Call for Men’s Action Now- Repair the Past and Push Women Forward,” in Gbarnga, Bong County.
The conference is part of efforts the ministry has instituted to involve more men in the promotion of gender equality and fight against gender-based violence (SGBV) and it runs from Monday, June 11-13, today.
The three-day gathering will discuss domestic violence in Liberia; men’s perception of gender-based violence within the Liberian context; women and politics; political participation and land rights and sexual exploitation; equal opportunities, inclusion, and non-discrimination.
Gender Minister Williametta P. Saydee-Tarr, called for joint efforts of both men and women in the fight against SGBV and other violence against women.
Tarr noted that under the CDC pro-poor agenda, women issues are being highly prioritized, because the President is committed to providing equal opportunities for both men and women, which he has demonstrated by the numerous appointments of women in key government positions.
UN Women Country Representative, Ms. Marie Goreth Nizigama, said the conference is geared towards raising awareness about gender equality and respecting the rights of women and girls, because it is a game changer, particularly the high incidence of violence against women and girls in the country.
“A woman only approach to gender equality is insufficient to overturn the patriarchal structures and address the gender imbalances at the grassroots level in any fundamental way. As a result, gender inequality persists with disastrous consequences,” Nizigama said.
This conference marks a shift in the approach to involve men and boys to reducing violence against women and girls.
“The success of the campaign shows that men, as positive role models can be incredibly powerful, by building a new, positive view of masculinity they think and act in gender equitable ways and speak out against violence against women, both publicly and privately,” Nizigama said.
The champion for HeforShe, President George Weah, reaffirmed his commitment to the conference, which aims at developing men-specific strategies to advocate and address key issues affecting women and girls in Liberia.
Recent statistics from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection shows that in 2017, a total of 1,685 GBV cases were recorded, with 97 percent of the survivors being women and girls. From January to March 2018, 462 GBV cases were documented with rape accounting for 61 percent of the total number of cases, an increase of 5 percent as compared to the 1st quarter of 2017.