ActionAid Liberia, along with its partner, Community Health Initiative (CHI), has expressed elation over the performance of community leaders and women mediators in Montserrado, Margibi, and Gbarpolu counties.
At the end of a conference on Wednesday, August 5, 2020, which brought together 24 persons from eight communities, Jestina Kanneh, the Program Coordinator of ActionAid Liberia, told the Daily Observer that the project implementation is in its third year. Madam Kanneh said the peer-review exercise, which took place from July 30 to 31, 2020, drew the excitement of ActionAid Liberia.
“The peer review was intended for project beneficiaries to discuss issues within their communities and share experiences with a focus on success stories and handling of violence within their respective communities. We had three persons from each of the communities. ActionAid has established these structures in various communities, which we are currently working with,” Madam Kanneh said.
She said the conference was also intended to hear from beneficiaries on the status of their successes, some of the challenges faced in handling issues within their communities, and what ActionAid Liberia can help moving forward. According to her, the peer review will provide exit strategies by ActionAid Liberia.
Madam Kanneh said the peer review comes less than a month to the end of a three year project focusing on Reducing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), and Providing Assistance to the Survivors in Liberia, through advocacy for the implementation of laws protecting women, girls, and other groups from human rights violations, and strengthen local and national mechanism for their protection.
According to Madam Kanneh, the project seeks to build civil society’s capacity for a Rights Based Development in Liberia, establishing a strengthened advocacy oriented civil society.
Madam Kanneh said the programme, titled, “Enhanced Protection from Sexual and Gender-Based Violence for Women, Girls and Sexual Minorities in Liberia,” covers 52,176 women, girls and sexual minorities in eight communities across three counties over a period of three years.
She said the project specifically intends to improve community based protection mechanisms for reducing sexual violence and other forms of SGBV affecting women, girls and key populations across eight communities.
Rev. Mother Ellen K. Morris from Larkeyta Community lauded ActionAid Liberia and the European Union (EU) for the impactful project, which has empowered more women.
Rev. Morris said she remains grateful as her community highly benefited from the project, saying: “We had a series of trainings for women and girls and our community leaders also benefited.” She said women or beneficiaries will be ambassadors as the project comes to an end,” Rev. Morris said.
Watts S. Mulbah, a beneficiary and resident of Smith’s Town Community, said the training continues to help in handling issues within the community.
“We will not sit and see our male counterparts take advantage of us, talking about women and girls,” Ms. Mulbah said.
Joseph B. Zubah, a participant, said the project has been helpful to residents of various districts, especially learning how to work with women within the community.
“We have learned new things that our community will benefit from, and we will help to protect the women to carry on their work in the various communities as leaders. Interestingly, ActionAid Liberia is helping to empower our women, especially in things our women did not know,” Mr. Zubah said.
Siatta Kiawu, a member of the women’s forum in St. Paul Bridge Community, said the project has elevated her beyond her imagination, including increasing her earnings.
Madam Kiawu, who hails from Sierra Leone, said ActionAid Liberia has supported her in many ways and continues to do more. ActionAid Liberia has provided business money and specific funds to fight violence against women and girls, including instances in which a man beats his wife, his child and others.
“ActionAid Liberia has made us to experience lots of things. We will continue to forge ahead and do the right thing for our respective communities,” she said.
Joseph B. Zubah said the project has been helpful to residents of various districts, especially learning how to work with women within the various communities.
Norah Samuels, a resident of Margibi County, said: “In our town, women never had their own rights because of tradition, but we have come to understand our rights. Men and boys in our town has stopped beating on their women.”
Madam Samuels said most of the women are now able to stand on their own, including starting and operating micro-enterprises to send their children to school and support themselves due to ActionAid Liberia’s support.
“We will continue to make our gardens and take care of ourselves. Finally, we want to thank everyone who supported this initiative,” Madam Samuels said.