The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in collaboration with the Office of the First Lady and Partners on Wednesday, November 25, 2020 officially launched the 16-Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.
The 16-Day campaign emphasizes that violence against women and girls is a violation of human rights and acknowledges the role of patriarchal systems that embody harmful traditional practices and legal policies that are silent on abuses against women and girls, thereby denying this target population their right to a life of dignity.
The global campaign which originated from the first women’s global leadership institute is dedicated to ending Gender Based Violence against women and girls from November 25th-December 10th.
In a special remarks, Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr told participants at the virtual Launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, that the violation of the rights of women and girls through acts of violence is absolutely unacceptable given the fact that its threatens their safety, health and livelihood, and overall stagnate their growth, their rights to a peaceful life, and to prosper in a secure environment. Minister Saydee-Tarr recounted that Liberia has made meaningful gains towards ending all forms of violence against women and girls through the setting up of comprehensive integrated response centers that caters to the medical, psychosocial and protection needs of survivors; the strengthening of the justice system to ensure fair and timely dispensation of justice across the country; strengthening the reporting and referral system in schools and communities and establishing a critical mass of religious and traditional leaders, serving as agents of change in ensuring that the human rights of our citizens especially women and girls are respected.
It can be recalled that, President George Manneh Weah led the process to create an Anti-SGBV Roadmap under the theme: “A National Call to Action: Inclusive Involvement to Fight Rape and SGBV in Liberia.” This Roadmap, endorsed and adopted by equal representation of citizens of the country, International partners and Cabinet, now serves as a national blueprint for the fight against sexual and gender based violence.
"This is not a burden which the government alone can squarely bear. We all have the obligation to take ownership and leadership of this campaign - not particularly for 16 days, but within our daily lives everyday. As long as evil men and their facilitators remain relentlessly committed to making our communities unsafe for our women and children, each of the three hundred and sixty-five days in the year requires us to roll up our sleeves and battle them", Minister Saydee-Tarr cautioned.
This year’s observance marks Liberia’s 19th commemoration of the 16-Days of Activism since it was observed in 2001.
The 2020 campaign is being observed under the Global Theme: “End Gender Based Violence and Harassment in the World of Work!” National Theme: “Take Action to End Gender Based Violence and Harassment in Liberia!”
This is also aligned with the Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), Pillar One: Power to the People, which highlights gender and equity as a strategy to eliminate Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and other social inequalities women and girls in particular.
"I assure you that this government stands ready to protect all women and children, nevertheless, in order to build the kind of society we envision, we all must play a positive role especially when it comes to mentoring our children to respect and value the right of women and girls", Minister Tarr assures participants.
Also speaking during the virtual conference, UN Women Country Representative to Liberia Madam Marie Goreth Nizigama emphasized the urgent need for women and girls voices not only to be heard, but listened to whether they are at home, in schools, in office, in markets and all spaces, uniting them across locations and sectors in a national movement of solidarity.
"I call upon everyone to spare a moment to listen to survivors and end the culture of silence and to put the survivors at the center of the response. While everyone; men, women, girls and boys can be affected by violence and harassment, it occurs disproportionately against women and girls including those most marginalized – meaning, this violence remains one of the most systematic, widespread human rights violations in Liberia with over 70% of women and girls reportedly experiencing physical violence or rape according to statistics from the annual statistics from the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection", Madam Nizigama pleaded.
The UN Women Country Representative stated that the United Nations family in Liberia reaffirms its continuous support to the Government of Liberia to ensure gender-based violence free spaces across all communities. She made mentioned that the United Nations also encourages the Liberian community to push for gender equality which is a catalyst to preventing gender-based violence.
According to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and Partners, this year's observance will ensure: massive nationwide awareness in almost all communities in the 15 counties of Liberia to promote the concept of Preventing Gender Based Violence throughout the 16 days; advocate for the protection of women’s and girls’ rights in all sectors of the society through media engagement; engage more males and bring them on board to join the fight against GBV; strengthen community ownership in the fight to eradicate Gender- Based Violence; encourage society to acknowledge that violence against women and children is a societal problem and that failure to view it as such results in all efforts failing to eradicate it and re-emphasize the fact that the solution to ending GBV lies with all of us in Liberia.