The Women Civil Society Post-Millennium Development Goals Steering Committee has called on the Liberian Government, through the Gender Minister Julia Duncan Cassell, to take strong action at a global level to ensure that the Post-2015 Development Framework has the rights of all women and girls at heart.
The Women NGOs secretariat is a national network of over nine women civil society organizations established in October 2012 with the objective of giving women a voice and advancing their issues in the ongoing discourses about framing a global agenda to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The network has member organizations including the Liberia Women Media Action Committee (LIWOMAC) in Liberia, as well as others in Ghana, Kenya and the United Kingdom.
According to a letter written to the Gender Minister, the Network recognized and welcomed the Liberian Government’s participation in the Post-2015 negotiations, as well as efforts made over the past years to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment through the adoption and implementation of the African Union Protocol.
“In this regard,” wrote Marpue M. Speare and T. Estella Nelson, Chairperson and Liaison, respectively, on behalf of the Steering Committee, “we want to urge you to continue your support for women’s rights especially as the negotiations for the Post-2015 framework enter the crucial, final year.”
Specifically, they are calling on the Liberian Government to raise three cardinal issues: the need for a standalone goal on gender equality and women’s rights; targeted action to tackle violence against women and girls; and for Gender equality and women’s rights to be mainstreamed across the new framework’s goals, targets and indicators, particularly health and education.
The group observed that it is widely recognized that the current MDGs failed to fully address gender inequality, for instance by omitting to include a target on violence against women and girls. “It is imperative that the international community learns from this failure and ensures the new framework comprehensively addresses women’s human rights and gender equality,” the Committee maintains.
Stating that targeted action to tackle violence against women and girls should be a target to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls; and in order to ensure the target is fully implemented, the Committee insists there should be indicators that measure: states’ capability to protect survivors and prevent and respond to violence, the objective situation regarding levels of violence as well as perceptions in society about violence.
The issue of gender equality and women’s rights to be mainstreamed across the new framework’s goals, targets and indicators, particularly health and education, also failed to consider the safety of girls in school, teenage pregnancy, risk encountered by rural girls while traveling to school and quality of education (which compasses teacher quality and compensation, rural-urban disparity and income inequality). It therefore failed to address the spectrum of challenges girls face in accessing education.
“Regarding MDG 4 on reducing maternal and child mortality we have seen improvements due to efforts by the government and its partners to improve the health sector,” the Committee said. “However, inadequate infrastructure and low capacity in obstetric care services remain a major threat to the safety of women giving birth in Liberia.
“Diseases in our society also disproportionately affect women. For example, the vast majority of those who’ve died since the outbreak of the Ebola Virus in our society are women.”
According to the Steering Committee, efforts to achieve gender equality in the new framework will only be successful if gender is mainstreamed across goals, targets and indicators – particularly those on health and education.