By James Shilue
Every year International Women’s Day is celebrated. For this year, the United Nations has coined the theme for International Women’s Day 2020 “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”.
The UN Women in Liberia has been leveraging the Generation Equality campaign for years. It aims at “bringing together people of every gender, age, ethnicity, race, religion and country”, in a bid to drive actions that will lead to a “gender-equal world we all deserve”.
Like other counties, in Liberia, gender continues to play a decisive role in determining access to resources and services. Women and girls in Liberia continue to have limited access to education, health services and judicial services, which has severely curtailed their participation in the formal economy. Despite the laws recognizing equality of the sexes, customary law and practices prevail, some of which are harmful to women and girls.
The Platform for Dialogue and Peace has developed an innovative intervention to contribute to the promotion of gender-sensitive human rights issues as a way of building peaceful and gender equal communities, in which women are empowered to actively participate in critical decision making processes in Liberia.
In observance of 2020 International Day’s of Women, P4DP will be visiting the Nancy Doe Public school and the Lakpazee community Market to educate women, girls, students, marketers and marginalized people on the importance of International Women’s Day by delving into, among others, the following topics:
- The Important Role women play in the Development of Liberia and the World
- Strategies to prevent Child Marriage, Teenage Pregnancy and Sexual Gender Based Violence.
- Empowering women to become self-reliant and innovative.
- Sextortion and Corruption, etc.
Violence against women is a pandemic affecting Liberia. In the first quarter of 2018 alone, a total of 462 cases of various forms of sexual gender based violence were reported from across Liberia, with the majority of survivors being children. Children are not the only victims but women and girls are also exploited because of their status ascribed to them in society. There are repeated reports of girls engaging in sex for grades in schools. Women are coerced by their male’s bosses to engage into sexual interaction. Marginalized groups are discriminated because of the sexual preferences and physical disabilities.
P4DP joins U.N. Women in celebrating this year theme by calling for an end to Sexual extortion or “sextortion”. This phenomenon occurs when those entrusted with power use it to sexually exploit those dependent on that power. It is a gendered form of corruption that affects children, adults, vulnerable individuals and even professionals.
The Platform for Dialogue and Peace supports this year’s theme and encourages women and marginalized groups to not submit to all forms of gender based violence including sextortion but women and girls should muster the courage to reject and expose those who are using their power and position in a gender insensitive manner.