The Government of Liberia (GoL), in partnership with the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) through its spotlight initiative, on Monday, November 4, 2019, commenced a two-day National Colloquium on Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) prevention and response in Monrovia. The event will continue on Tuesday, November 5.
The event, which brought together delegates from Montserrado and rural parts of the country, is held under the theme, “Promoting Coordination to Enhance Prosecution of SGBV Crimes, Harmful Practices, and Promoting Access to Sexual Reproduction and Health Rights (SRHRs).”
The purpose is to provide space for information sharing of best practices, as well as lessons learnt on the prosecution of SGBV crimes and access to SRHRs from experts in the field.
It is to also create awareness on the rape law, strengthen coordination, understanding of different actors to identify key drivers of support to compliance with domestic and international human rights obligations by the national government, and other duty bearers with a specific focus on women’s and girls’ right. It further looks at challenges inherent in the prosecution of SGBV crime’s advocates on procuring witnesses and preferred recommendations for improved coordination as well as networking.
Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor said based on data and statistics collected around the world, SGBV is one of the most pervasive and devastating human rights violations in the world today.
“It is evident that it affects mainly women and girls, and limits their potential and full enjoyment of their human rights,” VP Taylor said.
VP Taylor said as a nation, Liberia must tackle this issue to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially Goal #5, which outlined achieving gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment.”
She told the gathering that SDG goal #3 is to ensure healthy lives and promote the well-being of all ages.
“We cannot achieve equality without eliminating these acts of violence against women and girls. Their human rights must be protected,” The VP said.
She, however, acknowledged that there has been some progress made in the fight, but not fast enough in a coordinated manner to collectively achieve the goal.
“Ending rape and other harmful practices against women and girls, prosecuting these crimes, and providing the required level of support for the survivors requires each of us in this room to stand up, fight and take action,” VP Taylor said.
She added, “I always raised the alarm when I receive stats on what is happening in our country. According to the statistical trend on SGBV from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, rape of minors is the most recurrent SGBV’s crime committed against girls.”
Dr. Pa Lamin Beyai, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), said that gender equality and women’s empowerment are significant to the UNDP and the United Nations as a body in its strategy for 2018/2019, noting that the UNDP is dedicated to supporting the promotion of women’s equal participation in the political process, peace and security issues that create access to transform livelihood and protection of their lives.