By: Laymah Kollie
Liberia: As the world commemorated the 16 days of Activism, Community-Based Organizations (CBO) and Civil Society organizations working with ActionAid curtailed Gender-Based Violence on Saturday the 9th of December 2023. The CSOs and CBOs present lavished praises and shared their progress in mitigating all forms of Gender Based Violence in their respective communities.
The Open Evening event, organized by ActionAid Liberia, occurred at Corina Hotel to commemorate the 16 days of Activism.
At the start of the occasion, Madam Elizabeth G. Johnson, Country Director of ActionAid Liberia (AAL), said that the event was to showcase the work of the Institution over the years. She noted that if the world should invest in Curtailing GBV, there should be a clear focus on where and what to invest.
“Today, we celebrate women and showcase the work we have been doing over the five years period of our Country Strategic Paper. We want to make more investments; we know GBV happens in our places of worship, homes, and public spaces. As an organization, we recognize the importance of investing in women and girls to end Gender Based Violence. We need to be able to highlight these places that need investments so that our efforts do not go in vain” asserted Elizabeth.
During the experience-sharing session, Ms. Josephine Poole of Gbarpolu County narrated how awareness, a community-based approach, and peer education have helped minimize GBV in her County. According to Josephine, through ActionAid’s support, they have been able to raise awareness through school clubs, which has helped to terminate the practice of FGM and reduce GBV in Gbarpolu.
“ActionAid empowered us with knowledge and understanding of our rights as women; today, we can fight for our rights. Our community, Gbarma, in Gbarpolu County, used to be one of the active FGM hubs for the initiation; through ActionAid’s awareness Harmful traditional Practices, FGM is not practiced again in our community. Instead, we have established school clubs to raise awareness on the reduction of teenage pregnancy and the effects of HTPs. I am proud to let you know that teenage pregnancy has drastically reduced, and more girls are now going to school,” Josephine said.
Representing Community Healthcare Initiative INC, Madam Naomi T. Solanke, Executive Director, explained her organization’s prospects over the years; she said that her organization has been established and is now servicing seven counties in Liberia with technical and financial support from ActionAid Liberia. Naomi acknowledged the work done by Actionaid over the years to empower women and girls to be able to fight against GBV.
“We started as a social group to support healthcare during Ebola time, but we never had any idea what an organization was, but ActionAid came and helped with the process. It is through ActionAid my organization has reached this far,” Naomi said.
International partners at the occasion applauded ActionAid Liberia’s efforts to nurture women who have seen the need to transfer knowledge and skills to their fellow women in Liberia.
Johan Romare, Head of Development Corporation at the Swedish Embassy, recognized the efforts of Liberians to change the narrative in Liberia and noted that the Embassy will work side by side with ActionAid Liberia’s to fight in ending all forms of violence in Liberia.
“It’s Liberians that are changing Liberia; the Swedish embassy will work side by side with u to do it,” said Johan.
Furthermore, Mr. Sidiki A. Quisia, a Representative of the United Nations in Liberia, speaking at the occasion, urged Liberians to end violence against women and girls as it is inevitable.
“Violence against women is not inevitable; it’s preventable, so let’s endeavor to end it,” Sidiki said.
Ma Kebbeh Monger, Head of Rural Women in Liberia, appreciated ActionAid for a job well done and stressed the need for youth involvement in rural women activities. She noted that the young people can be vulnerable to the communities, and many young boys who have become victims of drugs and end up being perpetrators of violence,” Ma Kebbeh said”.
Ma Kebbeh further narrated that the Rural Women office has incorporated young women from the communities who were affected by FGM and dropped out of schools. This will enable women to nurture knowledge to the young generation properly,” ma Kebbeh said.
ActionAid Liberia is working to achieve social justice, gender equality, and poverty eradication by working with people living in poverty and exclusion in their communities. AAL is part of ActionAid International Federation headquarters in Johannesburg, with member organizations present in 45 countries, sharing common values and efforts to drive social change towards a more just and sustainable world.