Liberia faces serious challenges in sustaining its peace. These challenges are manifested during elections when violence overshadows our democracy. Electoral violence can be curbed if we engage the youth who constitute the majority in partisan and polarized groups.
As Liberia approached Midterm elections —slated for December 8, 2020— Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa (GPFA), sought to address the gap in curbing political and electoral violence by placing young people on the frontlines as Peace Advocates. As such, the Foundation launched its “Don’t Touch My Peace” campaign under its PeaceJam Liberia (PJLIB) project on September 21, 2020.
The three-month campaign that climaxed on December 4, 2020, expanded opportunities for young Liberians political and civic engagements. It created room for peaceful and educational dialogues, which helped first-time voters understand their role as peacemakers, especially during political tensions.
The youth-led campaign brought together over 600 PeaceJammers to spread non-violence messages in Bong, Margibi, and Montserrado counties. The campaign changed the narrative for Liberian youth, consequently inspiring over one hundred countries—through the PeaceJam Foundation— to launch their own non-violence campaigns.
Every weekend, for the past three months, PeaceJammers thoroughly engaged over forty (40) violent-prone communities to sensitize first-time voters and community members about electoral violence. Inspired by the proverb, “it is best to sit on the old mat to plait the new one,” PeaceJammers leveraged engagement strategies from the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace campaign.
On Fridays, PeaceJammers visited Mosques and read the campaign statement, which calls on Muslim leaders to prioritize peaceful election processes and dissuade their communities from participating in electoral violence. At the end of the Friday Prayers, PeaceJammers encouraged the Muslim community to sign on to GPFA/ PJLIB’s Peace Banner. The Peace Banner symbolizes reaffirmation to promoting and sustaining Liberia’s peace.
Similarly, on Saturdays, PeaceJammers conducted door-to-door outreach in populated communities and market places- upholding the prevention precautions outlined for the eradication of COVID-19 in their entirety. Then, PeaceJammers sensitized first-time voters about partaking in violence-free elections. During sensitization, PeaceJammers also distributednon-violence awareness stickers. On Sundays, PeaceJammers targeted the Christian communities- they attended church services and read the campaign statement, encouraging members to sign the Peace Banner.
On November 25, 2020, GPFA/ PJLIB’s “Don’t Touch My Peace” campaign was nominated for Best Youth-Led Movement in this year’s 1 Billion Acts of Peace Awards. This nomination honors PeaceJammers who have worked tirelessly to promote violence-free elections to sustain Liberia’s peace and engage youth worldwide to share their vision for peace. The campaign became a semifinalist from more than 8 Million Acts worldwide.