Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai has declared that access to justice for women remains limited due to the difficult court processes, the negative attitudes of law enforcers, inadequate capacity to process caseloads as well as inadequate staffing both in law enforcement and adjudication.
The Vice President made the statement last Friday when he officially launched the ‘He for She’ program, a solidarity movement for gender equality developed by UN Women to engage men and boys as advocates and agents of change for the achievement of gender equality.
“Liberian customary law is oftentimes blamed for permitting some other harmful traditional practices, such as early marriage, which continues to go largely unchecked by the statutory system,” the V.P. said.
He observed that women and girls face barriers and disadvantages in every sector in which they work, revealing that around the world, 62 million girls are not in school.
Giving the global statistics of the issue of violence against women and girls, he said one in three women risks experiencing gender-based violence in her lifetime while in the developing world, 1 in 7 girls is married before her 15th birthday, with some child brides as young as 8 or 9.
Each year more than 287,000 women, 99% of them in developing countries, die from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications.
He called on men and boys to join the campaign and make sure the issue of violence against women and girls is stopped and gender equality is promoted.
“I should, therefore, re-echo the point that men can be great contributors to this campaign to construct a healthy society. I encourage everyone to mobilize as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for change. And, we don’t just want to talk about it.
“We want to make sure that it is tangible. It is thus my urge that you sign up for the He-For-She Campaign.
“This should be a noble undertaking for us, Liberian males, to troop into this national and global movement to promote women’s rights both as advocates and stakeholders who need to change to make that positive change in gender equality a reality for all,” VP Boakai explained.
He also called on men to step forth in championing the cause of peace and security for women, urging them to push for economic empowerment, equality and participation for partners and also to raise awareness on the potential negative effects of some of Liberia’s long held traditional practices.
“As you will agree, this is not about the divide between women and men. It is about a shared vision of human progress for all.
“It is about creating a solidarity movement of both sexes for the achievement of gender equality. The realization of gender equality can create nothing short of a win-win situation,” Veep Boakai declared.
According to UN Women Representative Madam Awa Ndiaye Seck, “Women have suffered because of the lack of education, lack of access to justice, economic empowerment and for Liberia the vulnerability was further worsened by civil war and the outbreak of Ebola.”
Madam Seck said it’s due to the high increase of violence against women and girls that the HeforShe Program was launched.
The program, she said, is targeting one billion men to support gender equality and at the same time mobilize individual men and boys online and offline through the “sign up” approach that encourages increasing engagement from the initial awareness to advocacy to action that will be recorded and share through the website.