DCI-Liberia Launches ‘Spotlight Initiative’ Project for Women, Girls

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Foday M. Kawah, Executive Director, Defense For Children International

Defence for Children International (DCI-Liberia) has announced the launch of its ‘spotlight project for women, girls, and men on prevention and response in Grand Cape Mount and Montserrado counties.

The European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) are jointly implementing a multi-year program called the ‘Spotlight Initiative’ (SI), which is focused on eliminating violence against women and girls (VAWG) and harmful practices (HP).

Atty. Foday Kawah, Executive Director of DCI-Liberia made the disclosure on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, at a news conference in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County, and promised to ensure that the project is fully implemented in the interest of Liberia.

Mr. Kawah said the prevention component focuses on changing norms and behaviors, while the response aims at addressing the delivery of quality essential services, which have been lacking.  

Mr. Kawah said the spotlight initiative project is being implemented with funding and technical support from UNICEF-Liberia and European Union.

He pointed out that the spotlight counties include Grand Cape Mount, Montsserrado, Lofa, Nimba, and Grand Gedeh, citing that the counties named to continue to show high rate, each of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), harmful practices (HPs), female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage and teenage pregnancy while access to sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) is said to below.

DCI-Liberia’s boss explained that the spotlight initiative is being implemented in eight (8) countries in Africa, including Liberia, and will help to improve the rights of women and girls and other discriminated groups by helping them to live a life free of violence.

“Progress in peacebuilding and security over the last decades has not translated into actions to eliminate violence against women and girls and marginalized groups, rather, has contributed to destabilizing the peace and security despite increasing media attention leading to demonstrations by the public, especially expressing frustration at the lack of response and action from the government,” Kawah said.

He, however, said the current Government has indicated a strong focus on improving the realization of women and girls’ rights in its five-year development plan, the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).

He indicated that the PAPD is aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are strongly embedded within the overall PAPD.

According to Kawah, the Liberia Spotlight Initiative is also being implemented by five (5) UN Agencies including UNICEF and UN WOMEN in close collaboration and guidance with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP) as the lead Ministry responsible to coordinate with other relevant Ministries including Health, Education, Youth, Internal Affairs, Information, and Finance and Planning Ministries.

He explained further that the project targets four administrative districts in 20 communities in Montserrado and Grand Cape Mount counties, with adolescent girls, gender-based violence observatories, peer educators, parents and teachers associations (PTAs), all public schools, and local leaders being the main focus groups.

“Twenty PSEA champions will complete trainers of trainers (TOT) training, sensitization on gender-based violence risk mitigation, and referrals for survivors. One thousand one hundred twenty-five (1125) women, men, girls, and boys are targeted by social norms, change interventions or other GBV- related information or awareness,” Kawah said.

According to him, two thousand two hundred (2200), including both sexes of all ages are benefitting from awareness activities to promote access to services for responses to incidents of GBV, including how, where, and why access to service for GBV.

“Twenty functional community-based child protection structures/child welfare committees/trained are already identified. Two thousand two hundred (2200) women, men, girls, and boys are targeted by social norms change interventions or other GBV-related information or awareness intervention,” he said.

Kawah added that the number of people of both sexes and all ages identified will participate in the social and behavior change communication interventions aims at promoting the elimination of violence against children through UNICEF programs, stating further, “The one thousand one hundred twenty-five (1125) girls and women will be accessing safe spaces, disaggregated by age and sex.”

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