By Simeon S. Wiakanty Hannah N. Geterminah
The government with support from the European Union (EU) on Thursday, November 21, 2019, validated a comprehensive prevention strategy action plan on the Spotlight Initiative on Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) in Monrovia.
Liberia’s Spotlight Initiative is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Government of Liberia and the United Nations
The objective of the comprehensive validation is to present key findings from data collected, as well as present sexual gender-based violence (SGBV) prevention strategies for the country.
It also seeks to create the necessary awareness on the consequences of domestic violence, and female genital mutilation (FGM) (women circumcision), and to enhance national ownership through the participation of collaboration by all actors.
The Initiative focuses on the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, focusing on SGBV and harmful practices.
The workshop brought together representatives from the various ministries and agencies; civil society actors, religious communities, traditional leaders, as well as international partners.
Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Chief of Staff (CoS), Maj. Gen. Prince C. Johnson III, informed the gathering that violence against women and girls not only devastates their lives but divides communities, as well as undermines the growth and development of every fabric of society.
Maj. Gen. Johnson described violence against women and girls as a security issue that should be prevented across the country.
In his keynote address, delivered at the occasion, Johnson made reference to statistics from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection that has recorded 64.5 percent of women and girls in Liberia who have suffered from all forms of violence over the past 2 years (2017/2018). Maj. Gen. Johnson said the act threatens the political and socio-economic development of the country, something which he said needs urgent attention.
Kingsley Amaning, UN Resident Coordinator for Liberia, said the event marks a major milestone for the Government of Libera, EU and Sweden, which is a joint effort to end violence against women and girls.
Amaning said 70 percent of alleged rape cases involved children below 17 years and, out of 2,018 reported cases, only 14 perpetrators have been convicted.
Ingrid Wetterqvist, Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, said the policy documents are based on the belief that sustainable peace, security, and development can never be achieved if half of the world’s population is excluded from fighting against SGBV.
Amb. Wetterqvist said the strategy for development cooperation in Liberia is expected to end in 2020, which she said was timely and presents an opportunity to coordinate better results.
Helene Cavé, EU Ambassador to Liberia, said the national comprehensive SGBV prevention strategy pinpoints the specific root causes of gender inequitable norms and gender-based violence.
She stressed the need to increase women’s political and economic empowerment as highlighted in the SGBV Strategy, to attract men and boys in this endeavor.
“It is important to highlight that it should be implemented at all levels,” Cavé said.
“In this chain,” Cave said, “it is therefore so important to involve the community and traditional leaders alongside women and men; girls and boys to change harmful structural behaviors and attitudes.”