Minister Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr Full Briefing at the Ambassadorial-Level Meeting of the Liberia Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission
Minister Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr
Full Briefing at the Ambassadorial-Level Meeting of the Liberia Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission
March 9, 2021 - Online
H.E. Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Liberia
H.E. Ms. Anna Karin Eneström,
Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations and Chair of the Liberia Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission
Mr. Niels Scott, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Liberia,
Madam Marie Goreth Nigizama and other Representatives of the United Nations Agencies
Amb. Juli Endee Crusaders for Peace Representing Civil Society Organizations
Other Dignitaries present
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:
Liberia welcomes this high-level meeting hosted by the Liberia configuration of the
Peace Building Commission focused on promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality in Liberia. To ensure lasting peace and reconciliation is attained, the women of the Liberia need to fully participate in all levels of decision making. Furthermore, the differential needs of women and girls have to be at the core of all policy, plans and programmes. Unfortunately, the struggle for women’s emancipation still remains an uphill task. Overall, our collective pledge of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of “gender equality” by 2030 looks blurry if we all do not build on the gains Liberia has made.
Since our ascendency to national government in 2018 under the leadership of H.E. George M. Weah, and with the support of our partners, tremendous strides on women’s empowerment and gender equality has been made aligned with the government’s development framework, the Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).The Government with support from various partners across the gender and development spectrum has developed and operationalized policies such as the Revised National Gender Policy; The Second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security; an engendered Land Right Act, the development of the SGBV Comprehensive Prevention Strategy amongst others. And, with much advocacy, the passage of the Domestic Violence Act in 2019 after having sat on the shelf for years.
As part of the government’s developmental agenda, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection leads the Liberia Social Safety Nets Project supported by World Bank and USAID which has provided cash benefits to extremely poor and food insecure households in Grand Kru and Maryland Counties as a means of improving their livelihood and that of their families. To date, 3,451 households benefitted of which females make up 82% and we ensure that the funds go directly to female heads of households. We are currently exploring possibilities of scaling up the cash transfer to other parts of the country. Presently, we have embarked on an Urban Cash Transfer process in Monrovia, under a COVID-19 induced project, supported by UKAID, USAID and World Bank.
To address the scourge of rape and other forms of violence against women and girls, the Government of Liberia along with its partners hosted a National Conference on SGBV and developed the Anti-SGBV Roadmap. After the conference, H.E. Mr. President declared rape as a national emergency and pledge government initial support of 2million United States Dollars to the fight against SGBV Liberia. The government has now procured a DNA machine which was also a commitment by H.E. President Weah during the national conference and this shows that the promise made has been kept even as we work together to see that the roadmap is fully implemented.
In an effort to mainstream gender in our national planning process, this government has established Gender and Social Inclusion Units in Ministries, Agencies and Commissions to promote gender responsive planning and budgeting and have more gender balanced programs emanating from our institutions.
The Government through the EU Funded Spotlight Initiative that is implemented through the UN, has supported 180 At-Risk adolescent and vulnerable girls (ages 10-19) from Montserrado, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Gedeh, and Cape Mount Counties with vocational and technical skills in cosmetology, plumbing, catering, tailoring, amongst others and provided starter kits as a means towards strengthening women and girl’s capacity and promoting gender equality. Additionally, the Government is providing educational support to vulnerable girls at the William R. Tolbert High School in Bong County, in an effort of increasing girls and young women’s enrollment, retention and completion of primary and secondary school.
Despite the many achievements, the Government experienced some challenges associated with the delivery of its programs and services geared towards the empowerment of women and gender equality. With the global pandemic in 2020 several donor funded projects were stalled due to the global lockdown and Liberia’s own safety protocols and guidelines. Some of these projects including those funding by the peacebuilding fund may need adequate extension if the needed result is to be achieved.
Additionally, the issue of funding gap for programs cannot be over exaggerated. Currently the Spotlight Initiative Project is being implemented in 5 counties out of 15counties. However, most of the challenges in these targeted counties cuts across the other counties. Our government does not have the funds to replicate the initiatives across Liberia. Furthermore, we still face difficulties Data collection and storage to inform formulation of policies, planning and decision making. As partners, it is key that we strengthen coordination between ourselves to avoid fragmentation in service delivery and statistical information.
Your Excellency, the full implementation of the endorsed Roadmap is estimated at 6million. However, our government has committed 2million with the gap of 4million. It is our hope that other partners will also join the government to co fund this initiative.
Let me take this time to applaud the continuous support of our donors, especially the Government of Sweden, the Peacebuilding Fund, Liberia Multi Partners Trust Fund for the contribution towards the realization of a second generation national action plan, this plan also like the roadmap has a major funding gap of more than 12 Million. Due to the pandemic, the government was only able to allocate 200,000.00USD in its 2020/21 fiscal budget to support the implementation initiatives stipulated in the NAP WPS in four Ministries-Education, Justice, Gender and Agriculture.
Your Excellences, Ladies and gentlemen, we can all agree that Liberia is making stern efforts to promote women empowerment but our existing gaps are real and they require the support and participation of all. We therefore request the support of the Peace Building Commission to kindly host an international donor forum to help present our various plans for funding. We also call on the Commission to make a special case for Liberia in receiving contribution both within the Gender Promotion Initiative and the Liberia Multi Partner Trust Fund to tackle some of the initiatives highlighted above.
As I close, let me once again thank H.E Ms. Anna Karin Eneström, for bringing gender equality and women’ empowerment to the front of the discourse, You are a true representative of a national with a feminist foreign policy. To all of our partners, we appreciate your investment and we look forward to your continual support. It is our ardent hope that the full participation of all of us will certainly bring true parity to our gender space.