The rights of women and girls have been violated for a long time in Liberia and it is about time to respect their rights and restore their dignity, guest speaker Ms. Latricia Wamah said at the celebration of the 5th International Day of the Girl Child.
Held at the Centennial Pavilion in Monrovia on Monday, Ms. Wamah said “in other parts of the world women and girls are abused and discriminated against. Women and girls have suffered violence and setbacks and non-achievements in Liberia and other countries with the belief that they can’t bring change to their country, community and home.”
The Global theme for the celebration was “Girls Progress = Goals Progress: Global Girl Data Movement” and the National theme was “Make it Count – Advancing an Integrated Movement for Girls Empowerment.”
Wamah said women and girls are sometimes discriminated against because of their positions, which gets them agitated, leaves them inferior, frustrated or upset, which should not happen.
“This is our time to make it count. This is our time to be treated fairly in our home, community and country and every part of the world. Over the past years in Liberia, most people have begun respecting women’s and girls’ rights,” she observed.
She called on women and girls to engage in ventures that are useful, positive and rewarding.
“This is our time to be saved from discrimination, violence, setback, something for something, sex for grades and many others. When we are free and educated, our community, country, and family will benefit from it as well,” she noted.
Speaking earlier, Mrs. Julia Duncan-Cassell, Minister of Gender Children and Social Protection (MGCSP), said the government was delighted to celebrate the 5th International Day of the Girl Child.
“Let us bear in mind that the sustainable development goals cannot be achieved when millions of girls around the world are not enrolled in school, when girls are still being denied their fundamental needs and rights, when there is still prevalence of harmful attitudes and practices which include early marriage, female genital mutilation, domestic abuse, incest, rape and sexual exploitation,” Minister Duncan-Cassell said.
The Gender Minister said it is reported that 40 percent of 15-19 year old adolescent girls experience physical violence and 13 percent experience sexual violence.
The SDGs would never be attained if the majority of Liberian girls continue to bear their first child before they are 18 years old due to forced marriages or rape; they become vulnerable to the risks of teenage pregnancy, which is estimated at the rate of 31 percent; and being at the risk of HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), Minister Duncan-Cassell said.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), officially known as Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is a set of seventeen aspirational “Global Goals” with 169 targets between them, and spearheaded by the United Nations.
“Let us make it count today by making commitments to take actions to advancing an integrated movement for the empowerment of girls in Liberia, by creating an enabling environment through the implementation of programs and policies to foster girls’ education, and compulsory primary education policy for teenage girls,” the Gender Minister said.
She continued, “Let us make it count by advocating for policy and laws that protect the girl child from every form of sexual and gender based violence and ensuring access to quality adolescent sexual and reproductive health services.”
Senator Geraldine Doe-Sherif (Montserrado County) launched a manifesto for the empowerment and development of the girl child.
She said affirmative laws seeking the improvement and advancement of women and girls will be promoted at the Legislature at all cost.
“It is no longer time for girls to be fetchers of wood, water and keep doing all the odd jobs. We will keep engaging our colleagues in the House of Representatives, mostly the He4She Champions to get those Bills passed,” she assured.