The West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP)-Liberia with support from the EU/UN Spotlight Initiative Project has ended one segment of a three-day Trainers of Training (TOT) workshop for partners, Civil Society Organizations, Religious, traditional leaders, Youth groups, Male networks, rape gatekeepers/rape observatory, and other vulnerable groups of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), harmful traditional practices and sexual reproductive health rights to act as change agents in enhancing social behavioral change in various communities.
The training objective is to have participants te knowledge in communicating messages to the wider audience on how to advocate to prevent all forms of SGBV, harmful traditional practices and other violations against women and girls through awareness and sensitization utilizing basic communication strategies.
The training is the fifth session that was conducted in the five spotlight counties including Grand Gedeh, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Cape Mount, and Montserrado, bringing the total of 73 females and 88 males that have gained enhanced skills and knowledge and are ready to share practical experiences and skills acquired from the training to the larger communities.
The TOT is expected to equip participants to conduct training themselves for the wilder audiences and make them involve in the fight against SGBV related issues as a means of creating a safe space for all.
Philip M. Kollie, WANEP-Liberia head of the program, in an overview and opening remarks said based on the huge increase in SGBV cases discovered in those five counties selected for implementation of the Spotlight Initiative, it is important to enabling community leaders, traditional people, youth and women grouping to end harmful act against women and girls.
“The TOT workshop is intended to educate key actors in those five spotlight counties for onward training of others as a way of preventing SGBV,” he said.
According to him, WANEP comprises a membership of twenty-two civil society organizations including gender-focused institutions and served as a national peacebuilding resources hub for its members and others due to its hands-on experience in collaborative approaches of mediation, peacebuilding, reconciliation, human rights and gender advocacy in Liberia.
A commissioner of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights, Wilfred Gray-Johnson in a power-point presentation, said while it is true that there are many good parts of traditional practices, they only request that those that are harmful should be removed.
Gray-Johnson said it is important that girls are protected from having sex and children at a young age as a means of empowering them to be on par with men in the near future.
He said rape has nothing to do with tradition and that is why there is a need for massive education among communities to end all forms of violence against women and girls.
”While many people think of SGBV in terms of physical violence, there are other forms of violence which maintain the unequal power dynamic… it can be psychological, sexual, emotional or economic violence,” he told the participants.
He said SGBV derived from unequal power between men and women; noting that it is the reason why they need to be supported to get on par with men.
Participants at the training promised to take the training back to various communities to ensure that at the end of the implementation of the spotlight imitative project, SGBV should come to an end and the justice system should be strengthened.
They promised to work in order to achieve the objective of the training by serving as agents of change in enhancing good social behavior in the homes, communities, counties, and at the national level.