Gender Equality Activist, Vickjune Excel Wutoh Response to Pres. George Weah State of the Nation Address

Liberian Gender Equality Activist, Vickjune Excel Wutoh has officially pin pointed key issues relative to the SONA delivered on Monday January 30, 2023 at the Joint Chambers of the Legislature by Pres. George Manneh Weah.

Read the full response below:

“My attention has been drawn to the gender aspect of President Weah’s State of the Nation Address.

The Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection is one of the least-performing ministries in Liberia. The ministry’s strength has been manipulating its relationship with our international partners and writing the nicest report to justify funding.

Aside from the regular celebrations of global declarations and observations of days set aside to commemorate events like (International Women’s Day, 16 Days of Activism, and International Day of the Girl Child), What has the ministry of Gender under this regime done? In addition to the lackadaisical attribute of the ministry, it has also proven to be a glorified Community Based Organization (CBO) instead of a government institution that should make and implement policies to improve people’s lives, especially young women and girls. In my opinion, we need to organize some community youth leaders to offer the tutorial it needs on its roles and responsibilities again, that is, if they ever knew them first.

Schools in Liberia need to be hygiene-friendly for all students: girls, boys, young women, and men.

Below are a few recommendations that can be implemented.

➢ The Ministry of Gender must improve its relationship with the Ministries of Education and Health in establishing hygiene inspection teams in all schools. This is to ensure that health and safety rules and regulations are in place to avoid the Ricks Institute incident with little Angel, who was recently buried- may her soul rest in peace.
Schools must register first aid services with trained health practitioners before a field trip. We cannot afford to mysteriously and tragically lose students due to carelessness, recklessness, and gross negligence. Gender must take the lead to put the needed requirement and support in place to ensure this is implemented. IT SHOULD NOT BE JUST AN UTTERANCE; IT MUST BE AN ACTION.

You, Minister Williametta Saydee Tarr (Piso) of Gender, must be concerned about the health and well-being of girls, boys, young women, and men in schools. You are paid off their parents’ taxes monthly, so IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.

➢ The Gender Ministry must strengthen its relationship with the Liberia National Police to ensure there are well-trained gender officers as the first point of contact for all gender-sensitive cases. I have witnessed several instances that became almost violent because of the lack of effective communication and approach.

➢ That the ministry works with all requisite institutions, all our lawmakers, especially the Women Legislative Caucus, to ensure that there’s a law enacted to fight against verbal abuse specifically on social media- it is fair enough that crimes committed on social media must be handled as crimes committed off social media- we have seen daily how some people take advantage of the sayings “my account was hacked” or “ I live abroad” to insult others and go with impunity. Some also spread misleading information that has the propensity to insight violence and chaos. We cannot teach people how to be responsible citizens, but we can hold them accountable for their actions.

The fact that these things have not been highlighted for the past five years- I can only conclude that the Minister of Gender, Madam Piso Tarr is insensitive to her responsibilities, especially when it comes to the fight against rape, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, and other crimes committed against young women and girls, including our young men and boys.

In honesty, significant opposition political leaders should have emphasized some of these points in their responses to the SONA”.

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