Liberia’s Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, has officially launched the State of the World Population 2019 report, but expressed concern about Liberia’s education sector as projected in the report.
The Vice President made the remarks on Thursday, May 30, during the launch of State of World Population Report 2019 in Monrovia, coinciding with the celebration of International Conference on Population and Development at 25 years and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) at 50 years.
The launch brought together Larry P. Younquoi of District #8 in Nimba County, Yacoub El Hillo, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations, Ambassador of the Embassy of Sweden Ingrid Wetterqvist, Liberia’s Education Minister Ansu Sonii; Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr; and Youth and Sports Minister D. Zeogar Wilson, as well as students.
Dr. Howard-Taylor noted that the report indicated between the ages 10- 24 years, 72 percent of males and 64 percent of females are literate, which calls for a more robust gender equality regime needed now more than ever before.
“We must begin to look at specific plans which will enable us to take a more critical look at the entire educational system of Liberia. We need to find new sources of funding for higher levels of investment in education, thereby creating an enlightened population, a sine qua non to the growth and development we so urgently need,” Dr. Howard-Taylor said.
According to her, this report gives a clear demographic, economic and social outlook of the State of our Population, which will help Government and Development partners in prioritizing the sectors which are in dire need of financial interventions and support.
She expressed hope that the release of the 2019 UNFPA report will give the government and its partners the basis to strengthen their engagements and double up points urgently needed while committing that Government’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) offers the best developmental framework which can be used to move Liberia forward.
Dr. Howard-Taylor said the report further states that the health sector as a country is still seriously challenged. It indicates that infant and maternal mortality rates are still high and that 31% of girls between the ages of 15-19 years experience teenage pregnancy.
“Our Nation Liberia is an example of the critical need for a strong political will across all sectors to implement programs previously committed to; especially for gender equity and the elimination of negative social customs such as FGM from our social spaces,” she added.
Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi, UNFPA’s country representative, said since the establishment of the UNFPA in 1969, the organization has led a multilateral effort to help women in developing countries navigate through an ever-changing landscape of barriers to their reproductive rights.
Dr. Ndyanabangi said UNFPA came to Liberia in 1973 and has since been working with the government, civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations and other development partners, mainly in systems and capacity strengthening.
According to him, the agency worked to ensure that maternal health services were supported, including during humanitarian settings such as the civil war and Ebola epidemic.
“UNFPA has worked closely with the Ministry of Health to strength systems and create enabling environment to deliver quality maternal health services, including family planning services, development of national policies and guidelines and support for national and international training of health managers,” Dr. Ndyanabangi said.
Dr. Ndyanabangi, who recounted some of the achievements said the agency supported the establishment of a career pathway for midwives to attain a bachelor’s degree in midwifery, adding that the first 40 candidates financially supported graduated with a BSc.
“We supported the Ministry of Health for the integrated sexual education into the national curriculum for both primary and secondary schools. First, the comprehensive national school health policy, and a gender sensitive sexual education for out-of-school youth developed,” she said.
Dr. Ndayanabangi added that, considering the theme of the program, access to voluntary family planning as a human right is central to gender equality and women’s empowerment and is a key factor in reducing poverty.
Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP), expressed gratitude to UNFPA for the level of support over the years and hoped that the launch of the 2019 report will lead to more engagements in addressing issues affecting women and girls.
Meanwhile, the UNFPA honored several Liberians for the level of work done over the years, including Larry P. Younquoi of District #8 in Nimba County; Dr. John Mulbah, one of Liberia’s gynecologists; and Wilhelmina Flomo, President of the Midwives Association of Liberia; among others.