Before Her Term of Office Expires, Ellen to Ensure Domestic Violence Bill Turns into Law

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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has committed Liberia to aspects of Goal No. 5 of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted last weekend by the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

According to a dispatch, the President made the commitment at an event on gender equality and women’s empowerment on Sunday, September 27.

In committing her administration, President Sirleaf said before the end of her tenure, she will endeavor to ensure the domestic violence bill is passed into law; ban female genital mutilation (FGM) and ensure increased women’s participation in politics.

On the domestic violence bill, the President promised to collaborate with the National Legislature to pass into law the proposed Domestic Violence Act endorsed by the Liberian Cabinet on June 15, 2015 and currently before the lawmakers for enactment. The draft Bill defines Domestic Violence pursuant to Article 2 of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.

As regards ban on female genital mutilation, President Sirleaf committed to ensure the complete adherence to the enforcement of the ban on female genital mutilation in light of the backdrop that the 2011 Law on Children offers protection against all forms of violence including FGM.

On greater women’s participation in politics, President Sirleaf pledged to ensure the ongoing Constitution Review process in Liberia guarantees women’s full participation in governance and national affairs on a parity basis.

During the Constitution Review Conference early this year, the women of Liberia recommended five critical issues to be captured in the proposed constitution among which equal representation and participation of women in all sectors of Liberia (elected, appointed and selected) should be reflected in the constitution.

A Parity Bill is currently being discussed before the National Legislature. Taking this into consideration, the Women of Liberia propose that the 30 percent quota which was proposed in 2010 be increased to 50 percent and that the scope is broadened to include all sectors (public and private) of Liberia.

The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which comes into effect on January 1, 2016, has set out 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets to achieve over the next 15 years. This 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development seeks to build on the Millennium Development Goals and complete what the MDG did not achieve. It seeks to realize the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The new SDGs are integrated, indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental.

Specifically, Goal No. 5 seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere; eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.

It further aims to eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation; recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate.

The exercise is to further ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life; ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.

It will further undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.

The use of enabling technology, in particular information and communication technology, will be enhanced to promote the empowerment of women; adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.

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