By Ben T. C. Brooks
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has allotted US$15 million for five of the 15 counties to strengthen the fight against harmful practices of sexual and gender-based violence and also promote the right of women and girls in the society.
UNICEF Gender Program Manager, Madam Ina Christopher, who spoke in Zwedru on March 25, 2019, said the initiative is funded by the European Union (EU).
“This project is designed to strengthen the fight against harmful practices of Sexual and Gender-based violence and promote the rights of women and girls in the society,” Madam Christopher said.
“It is a four year program, and will be implemented in five of Liberia’s 15 counties to include; Grand Gedeh, Lofa, Grand Cape Mount, Nimba and Montserrado,” she added.
Madam Christopher said that the project is to be launched by President George Weah, followed by the implementation in the selected counties.
However, Ms. Rubylene Brown, UN-Women Gender program officer, said the four-year Spotlight Initiative project has five pillars, including the Laws and policies on the abuses of human rights, institutional capacity building to properly handle violence against women and girls (VAW) and Prevention of SGBV.
She added that smaller grants will be given to adolescent girls for sexual and reproductive health clubs at communities level.
Meanwhile, Lovetta Sieh, Director of the SGBV crimes unit at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, informed citizens that the EU’s four-year Spotlight Initiative project will be monitored by the UN, the Liberian government and civil society organizations (CSOs) in all of the five counties.
Madam Sieh urged the people of Grand Gedeh to take ownership of the project in their respective areas, when the project is launched, so as to make the county free from harmful practices, such as teenage pregnancy, rape, sexual exploitation and abuse, as well as denial of women in decision making processes.
Meanwhile, Grand Gedeh County Inspector, Paul Neoh, said GBV and other violent crimes are on the increase in the county.
“So, if this Spotlight Initiative project is well managed by the people of Grand Gedeh County, then it will help our county curtail harmful practices,” Neoh said.
He called on the citizens to embrace the project and not to focus on what people usually say, adding, “if we embrace this project, it will make impact in our communities.”