Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, launched the Liberia Spotlight Initiative in Tienii, Grand Cape Mount County. The initiative seeks to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, a press release has said.
The Liberia Spotlight Initiative, a global joint initiative of the EU and the UN, according to the release, is funded by the EU. Liberia is one of eight countries in Africa to benefit from the initiative.
A total of US$18.5 million will fund the first phase of the four-year period of the Liberia Spotlight Initiative. Funding for the second phase will subsequently be based upon results achieved, as outlined in the program document.
The initiative will focus on reducing the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence, and harmful practices and increasing women’s access to sexual and reproductive health services. The Liberia Spotlight Initiative will be implemented in Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Lofa, Montserrado and Nimba, the five counties with the highest prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence.
“Gender equality is the crux of the matter. Attitudes, Customs and laws will be changed for the betterment of our nation,” said Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor.
“The President,” she said, “will pass an executive order banning female genital mutilation (FGM), as we wait for the Domestic Violence Law to be passed.” Gender-based violence against women and girls is extremely high in Liberia. According to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), 2,105 cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) were reported in 2018, 420 more cases than in 2017, which recorded 1,685 cases.
“Many women and girls still suffer gender-based violence, one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations of our time. Gender-based violence must be fought and eliminated,” said Mr. Juan Antonio FRUTOS GOLDARATZ, Chargé d’affaires, European Union Delegation to Liberia.
The Liberia Spotlight Initiative will implement targeted interventions in the five counties to tackle the root causes of violence against women and girls, provide quality services for survivors and reparations for victims of violence.
To ensure success, an inclusive and multi stakeholder process will be implored to build consensus and national ownership. The Liberian government, UN, EU and partners will work with a cross section of stakeholders, including communities, students, teachers, parents, traditional and religious leaders, and other institutions such as the Liberia National Police, the Judiciary and the Legislature to prevent and respond to SGBV cases.
”Progress is possible” said Yacoub EL HILLO, the United Nation’s Resident Coordinator,” and the Spotlight Initiative creates space for all in society, including traditional leaders – who are a powerful segment of the Liberian society – to play an active role in ending violence against women and girls.”
The Liberia Spotlight Initiative builds on existing programs to prevent, and respond to violence against women and girls. It will also expand some of these interventions, reaching an estimated 600,000 women, girls, men and boys directly.
It will also contribute to the achievement of the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD 2018 to 2023), which aims to reduce violence against women and girls, and provide power to the people, especially women and girls, and build a stable, resilient, and inclusive nation.