By: E. Geedahgar Garsuah
MONROVIA: In addition to the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led Administration renewed commitment on curtailing the increasing wave of Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) scourge, as was stated recently in incumbent President, George Manneh Weah’s Sixth State of the Nation Address (SONA), the Government of Liberia (GoL) has announced a funding of US$446 million dollars from the World Bank as support to the Liberian Women Empowerment Project.
The World Bank’s financial assistance to the Liberian Women Empowerment Project which is directed at addressing social norms and inequalities, as well as SGBV is expected to target 258,000 beneficiaries in over 750 communities across the country.
The Liberian Women Empowerment Project initiative with support from the World Bank is in addition to the GoL’s flagship program named and styled: “Liberia Social Safety Nets Project” which falls under the auspices of the Ministry of Gender Social Protection (MoGSP) is recording significant successes in its targeted counties.
The Liberia Social Safety Nets Project is also being funded by the World Bank including the United Kingdom Foreign Commonwealth Development Office and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Highlighting the CDC-led Government’s gains in the fight against SGBV, President Weah, in his recent SONA, disclosed that it aimed is at achieving the full implementation of the Anti-SGBV Roadmap.
Weah indicated that his government has made available funding, not only for prevention and response, but also for the well-being of survivors, through the renovation of safe homes, and the provision of functional operational support services.
President Weah: “My stance in ensuring the rights and protection of all Liberians cannot be overemphasized.
However, as Liberia’s Feminist-in-Chief, “I remain committed to upholding the dignity and safeguarding the human rights of the most vulnerable segment of our population—women, girls and children. Within this context, my Government has made, and continues to make, significant efforts to address the scourge of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in a strategic and more coordinated manner,” the President indicated.
President Weah maintained that the Liberian government under his leadership will continue to engage donor partners to address the menace of SGBV against women and children, by the allocation of needed funds to provide appropriate support, and to enable ready access to justice systems.
He avers that while the CDC-led administration remains cognizant of its duty to honor long-standing traditional practices, the government also takes seriously its commitment to ensuring that harmful traditional practices such as early child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are confronted to protect women and girls.
“Even as we are cognizant of our responsibility to uphold our traditional tenets and cultural practices, we believe that we still have an obligation to ensure that harmful traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation and early child marriage, are addressed holistically in order to protect our women and girls. In so doing, we are mindful that we must respectfully employ culturally appropriate approaches with our traditional leaders,” President Weah emphasized.
He lauded the collective efforts of members of Liberia’s National Council of Chiefs and Elders, headed by Liberia’s Chief Zanzan Karwor, for cooperating with the government to see an end to FGM and early child marriage.
According to President Weah, the council of chiefs and elder has been very instrumental in the government roadmap directed at ending harm cultural and traditional practices that continue to serve as hindrance to women and girls realizing their full potentials.
“In this regard, I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to Chief Zanzan Karwor, head of the National Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia, and all of our traditional leaders, for historically leading by example, in a show of support for my administration’s gender agenda. We acknowledge their role in ensuring that we keep the beautiful parts of our culture, even as we work to do away with harmful traditional practices,” President Weah stated.
“Since my declaration to finding a pathway to achieve this goal, we have seen their expressed commitment to work with me, as was exemplified by the ceremony held this month in Sonkai Town, Todee District, symbolizing the end of harmful traditional practices in Montserrado County. This marks the beginning of a new era, where our beautiful girls will be initiated and given deep knowledge of our culture, without mutilation,” he added.
President Weah also disclosed that with support from the European Union Spotlight Initiative and implemented by the One-UN Organization, aiming at buttressing efforts by the government to reduce SGBV, an alternate livelihood program for traditional leaders has been established.
Additionally, the Liberia leader disclosed that to enhance the effectiveness of the alternate livelihood program, Vocational and Heritage Centers have been constructed in Montserrado, Nimba and Grand Cape Mount counties.
The centers, according to the President, will serve as an alternative means of livelihood for the cultural guardians, who are being charged with duty to educate young girls on the values and norms of traditional culture.
Meanwhile, as the October 10, 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections edge closer, President George Manneh Weah has reaffirmed his strong commitment to women political participation in the upcoming election.
President Weah who is the Feminist-In-Chief of the country disclosed that funding have been made available by the UN-Women to support a nationwide awareness and dialogue campaign geared towards boosting women’s confidence to undertake political activities.
“Today, I reaffirm my commitment to seeing more women on the ballot for elections in Liberia. Being cognizant of the impending 2023 elections, funding has been secured from UN-Women for a nationwide awareness and dialogue campaign aimed at promoting women’s political participation in this year’s elections,” President Weah asserted.