-Joins fight against gender-based violence, harassment in workplaces
The Episcopal Church of Relief and Development (ECLRD), has urged all faith leaders, women rights advocates and activists, as well as every resident in Liberia, to join the fight to end gender-based violence and harassment in workplaces, while starting with Institutionalize policies at various schools, churches, mosques and health centers.
Rev. Father Wozeyan Bazzie, Acting Vicar General of Episcopal Church of Liberia, made the call on Tuesday, December 1, 2020, during the official launch of the Episcopal Church of Liberia Relief and Development (ECLRD) 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2020, held at the Trinity Cathedral on Broad Street, Monrovia.
The launch of this year’s 16 Days of Activism, graced by many dressed in yellow, was held under the Global theme: “Ending Gender Base Violation and Harassment in the World of Work,” and the National theme: “Take Action to End GBV and Harassment in Liberia.
“I encourage faith leaders of Liberia, all employers and every citizen to ensure that they join the fight to end gender based violence and harassment in Liberia,” Rev. Father Bazzie said. “As a faith leader myself, I have come to realize that there are many lapses that we need to work on in ensuring that harassment in the world of work is reduced and eventually eliminated.”
He called on all employers to institutionalize policies that will protect women from harassment in the workplace.
Rev. Father Bazzie said he is expecting the government to come up with policies that protect females vendors, street peddlers, inter-country businesswomen and women in cross-border trade from being harassed by setting up a system where those individuals who harass them can be reported, investigated and punished.
Rev. Father Bazzie continued: “A good place to start is with our institutions. It’s good that many churches and Mosques are having schools and health centers, but how many of them have functional policies that report sexual harassment? How many pastors and Imams are willing and ready to listen to and support a lady if she reports that a man touched her or spoke to her in an uncomfortable manner?”
He also wondered how many institutions put stringent measures on the way females are addressed and the kind of jokes that are acceptable for females in their places of work.
“How many of these institutions ensure that male colleagues are informed about the appropriate manner of interacting and communicating with their female counterparts. Or are we still comfortable with the ‘she’s a woman and not a child’, or ‘he just touched her, he didn’t rape her’,” Rev. Father Bazzie asked.
According to Rev. Father, there is a need to demystify the idea that man has more right over a woman and should do with her as he pleases. A female, he noted, does not have to be raped before she’s harassed, but the words that are used around her, the actions that are used on her make it very difficult for her to utilize her fullest potential.
“If we, whether knowingly or unknowingly, can make a breadwinner miserable at the only place she has to earn a living for her family, then we all have failed woefully. To all boys and men, I’m urging you to understand that your masculinity doesn’t reside in how much power you exert on a woman or girl; but how much restraint you can exercise when dealing with a woman or girl,” he said.
Rev. Father Bazzie said a man that respects a woman enough to allow her to thrive both in the home and place of work, is a man who is truly deserving of a woman, adding that, “before you start announcing you are a man and you have rights to a woman, understand that manhood comes with responsibility.”
According to him, the fact that a man thinks he has more power than a woman is a thought that will lead him to harass her in more than one way.
“A woman isn’t important or valuable because she is not your mother, sister, daughter, or relative. She is valuable because she was made to be her own person, with her own thoughts and a lot to render to society. Until we, men, can realize bad understand this simple fact, women and girls will continue living in fear of harassment daily,” Rev. Father Bazzie stressed.
According to him, “things are hard in the country and that’s the most popular song of the year, but harassing a female while she tries to earn a living is wicked and should be punishable by law.”
He further called on the public to join the Episcopal Church of Liberia Relief and Development’s “Violence Against Women and Girls Program” to use their voices to speak against harassment in the workplace and all other forms of violence against women and girls through its “We will Speak Out Campaign.”
Rev. Father Bazzie indicated that the “We will Speak Out Campaign” provides the opportunity for both Christian and Muslim faith leaders to use their various platforms to speak out against violence against women and girls in their churches, mosques, communities, as well as during religious events.
He added that the Episcopal Church of Liberia, through its national and county-level faith leaders coalitions, along with County-level faith based youth coalitions and students, will visit schools, workplaces and communities in Grand Cape Mount, Rivercess, Bong and Grand Gedeh counties to participate in several activities, including radio shows, perform dramas on the Code of Conduct for Teachers and school administrators.
Annette M. Kiawu, the National Coordinator of the ECLRD, said they believe that ending gender-based violence requires the efforts of everyone.
“We take the 16 days of Activism as 365 days. We should continue to educate our people to end all forms of violence against women and girls,” she said. According to her, the ECLRD will Launch the 16 days of Activitism in the above four counties.