The President of the University of Liberia (UL), Dr. Julius S. Nelson has reaffirmed the university’s commitment to support and mainstream gender issues and build upon the current partnership between the university and the Liberia Sexual Gender-Based Violence Awareness Movement (LIBSGBV).
Dr. Nelson made the commitment recently when he spoke at a newly launched Awareness Movement (LIBSGBV) on the UL Capitol Hill campus urging the newly launched LIBSGBV to maintain and build upon the current partnership between the two institutions.
He disclosed that the UL family will continue to ensure that it’s Honors College for Interdisciplinary Studies highlights and drives gender issues.
It may also be recalled that on September 30, 2020, at a special edition of UL’s forum for intellectual and cultural exchanges, Lux Talk, Dr. Nelson on behalf of the UL authority, made another commitment in support of the Decade of Action on the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the national level, during which a discussion pinpointed the role of academia in actualizing the SDGs.
Dr. Nelson said UL has already created new academic programs, which include the Honors College of Research and Gender Studies and an entrepreneurship program, something he said is part of the university’s commitment to the fight against SGBV.
During the official launch of LIBSGBV, Mrs. Una Kumbah Thompson, President of the Women of Liberia Peace Network (WOLPNET,) expressed delight to have heard Dr. Nelson speak about the integration and mainstreaming of gender in the activities of the University of Liberia.
Mrs. Thompson noted that UL’s mainstreaming of Gender issues is commendable because it will address SGBV issues that require knowledge and commitment to deliver, teach, and change mindsets.
According to her, domestic violence leads to bodily harm and death, describing rape is so violent and traumatic that it causes so much trauma more than death itself if one survives it.
She indicated that when there exists violence against women, the nation will not be at peace, children will be wayward, and there will be more deaths and shame.
Madam Thompson added that trauma will then make more women stand in the back. “I am honoured to have been asked to launch this organization. I am honoured to have been given the platform to share my little voice with you that hopefully, you go out there and become not only champions but to work along with the LIBSGBV Awareness organization,” she stated.
Prof. T. Debey Sayndee, Country Director and Board Member, Liberia Sexual Gender-Based Violence Awareness Movement, said the essence of founding the organization is to see victims of SGBV accompanied and supported to seek justice.
Mr. Sayndee recalled that in 2015, the organization embarked on research titled “Gender-Based Violence and Access to Justice in Liberia,” which privileged the group to visit every community in Liberia.
Through the research, he revealed that there are places in the country where no statutory system exists, adding that by default, the people in such places have only one remedy if they are abused or hurt, which is the use of the customary system.
Prof. Sayndee said there are immense challenges in addressing SGBV issues, noting that if one takes the statutory option to seek justice for abuse, it starts with the police, the hospital, or some of the local authorities available.
Ms. Dwede Tarpeh, Project Officer for Gender at the Embassy of Sweden near Monrovia, inducted the LIBSGBV’s Board of Directors. She told members of the board that there is a real opportunity for engagement around SGBV issues, describing their roles as critical.
Kebbeh Monger, President of the Rural Women Association of Liberia, stressed the importance of creating awareness to convey strong anti-rape messages across all communities.
Madam Monger who served as the keynote speaker during the occasion, challenged the communities to make their interventions by taking victims to hospitals or police stations upon hearing of rape or other SGBV cases, even if the victims are not relatives.