-NCSCL Chairperson asserts
National leaders and other stakeholders in the fight for gender equality and women’s rights have been urged to graduate from mere words without actions to focus on the actualization of ‘Generational Equality’ and women and girl’s empowerment in the country.
The Chairperson of the National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL), Madam Loretta Pope Kai said women and girls’ empowerment must be guaranteed now. “Now is the time and not later,” she said.
Madam Pope-Kai is also the Executive Director of Foundation for Community Initiatives, a women rights and empowerment organization.
“If we are to make a difference – we need to act now and urgently to empower women. We must not meet at events and verbalize our commitment to women and girl’s empowerment. Rather, let us graduate from verbalization of women and girls empowerment to the actualization,” she noted.
“We must create the space for equality now and we must realize women’s rights,” she noted, adding that Generational Change or shift is now a demand.
The NCSCL head made these comments when she served as the keynote speaker at the official program in commemoration of International Women’s Day (IWD) held in Paynesville over the weekend. Madam Pope-Kai said women empowerment should never be considered as a mere concept, but rather an act that is specific, measurable and achievable.
She said girls are now tired listening to long speeches and resolutions and want to see actions taken to take them from the shackles of poverty, discrimination and disempowered to space where they will enjoy and realize their full potentials as humans. “This is the call and this must be the mission.”
“It is realistic and can be timely achieved with all hands on deck, giving it the deserving attention and energy,” she said.
The young women advocate said that women who sit on the decision-making tables must mentor young women and girls to prepare for leadership in the Political, Social and Economic Sectors of our country.
“This is and must be a social and moral obligation that we must commit to its actualization.”
“We must stand with all of the girls and young women of this land and work tirelessly to empower them. This is not a matter of choice,” she noted.
The NCSCL head noted that Generational change, a radical change that occurs in a population as a result of its members being replaced over time by new members with different values or other characteristics, must now begin to take shape in this new dispensation, “there is no better time than now.”
“I want to promise the older generation not to feel threatened. In fact, it is our generation that is evidently threatened. The future of our young girls and young women is threatened and therefore we must act – and now is the time. We cannot afford to hand down a bleak and gloomy future to those after you and us. That is why we must act to brighten the future and act we must,” she said to a loud applaud from young activists that filled the conference hall in Paynesville.
While there are challenges in achieving generational equality, she said little progress has been made. “We have succeeded in enacting the Domestic Violence Law that at least prohibits all forms of gender-based violence against women and practices that inhibited women’s rights associated therewith.”
The event was graced by President George Weah; UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN Coordinator to Liberia and some members of the Diplomatic Corps. Others were members of the Legislature, representatives of CSOs, women, girls and other top government officials.
She expressed gratitude to be chosen as Keynote Speaker for the IWD 2020 celebration.
“Your decision to have me represent my generation is indeed a demonstration of Generation Equality and I can proudly say I am Generational Equality.”
The celebration was held under the Global theme: “I am for Generational Equality, realizing Women’s Rights” and National theme: “Women’s rights for Generational equality”.
Generation Equality has since begun sparking public mobilization, demanding accountability and driving accelerated action to advance women’s rights and gender equality more than 25 years ago when women and gender equality advocates from across the world gathered in Beijing, China for the Fourth World Conference on women.
At that conference, the Beijing Platform for Action was adopted in 12 critical areas of concern (poverty, education, and training, health, violence, armed conflict, economy, power and decision making, institutional mechanism, human rights, media, environment and the girl child.
Madam Pope-Kai noted that the theme for this year’s IWD is unique in that it creates a room for stock-taking, to examine how far the struggle for gender equality has gone since that conference in 1995.
“Despite some progress, real change has been agonizingly slow for the majority of women and girls in the world. Today, not a single country can claim to have achieved gender equality,” she said, adding, “Multiple obstacles remain unchanged in-laws and in culture. As a result, women remain undervalued, they continue to work more, earn less, have fewer choices, and experience multiple forms of violence at home and in public spaces.”
She expressed excitement of being called upon to share knowledge and experience with young women and girls because she is a living example of generational transformation.
She hoped the 2020 IWD celebration will reenergize and reinforce stakeholders’ commitment and dedication to bettering the conditions of the women and girls of Liberia by eliminating all forms of discrimination and violence against them.
She called on the government to ensure that generational equality is a reality in Liberia by ensuring the provision of social services; strengthening of the Justice system to allow speedy trials of Sexual and gender-based violence cases.
She called on men to support Generational Change by providing a safe space for young women and girls.
She said in politics, there still does not exist the enabling environment for women to engage, strive, and achieve.
“But there is hope that this is changing. I believe it is changing by the emergence of a new breed of young women leaders, supported by their seniors/elders. It is changing by the election of Loretta Alethea Pope Kai, another young woman to Chair the NCSCL and many similar young women are now rising.”
Madam Kai told political actors that lip service to women political participation and affirmative action must end, adding that there is a need for transformational change to occur in ways that make gender-friendly and sensitive policies are prioritized.
She called on President Weah to show clear signs as the Feminist-in-Chief by ensuring that at least 30% participation of women in politics is reflected in his appointments.
“I want the President to kindly revisit his cabinet appointment or appointments in government to ensure that at least 30% women representation is reflected.”
She also wants the Gender Ministry to move speedily to bring to the table all essential actors to ensure that the FGM Bill and the Affirmative Action Bill are smartly redrafted to reflect the reality.
The second edition of the women manifesto was also launched at the event. The government, political parties and civil society Organizations, Women groups were called upon to commit to adopting and implementing of the Manifesto.