Rights Activists Want Tariff on Sanitary Products Canceled

By: Laymah Kollie

Liberia-May 29,2023:The Amplifying Rights Network, a local advocacy group, is calling on the Liberian government to cancel Tariff on Sanitary pads and other sexual reproductive services for women and young girls to ensure equal access.

The call comes at the end of a three-day sexual reproductive health and rights conference held in Liberia from 26th to 28 May 2023.

The conference held under the thematic theme “strengthening the lens of holistic SRHR in Liberia” brought together approximately six hundred (600) participants from Montserrado and other parts of the Country.

During the occasion, Amplifying Rights Network Chairperson Madam Naomi Tulay Solanke reemphasized the importance of Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) to young women in Liberia and as such, it should be of priority to local and national stakeholders in the country.

She stressed that despite the government’s effort to address maternal mortality, prevention of gender-based violence and teenage pregnancy in Liberia, much has not been done in addressing sexual reproductive health and rights issues.

She believes that young people still lack sufficient access to information, comprehensive sexuality and gender-responsive SRHR services with inclusive policies, laws, and commodities to enable people take control over their lives and opportunities.

The conference Chairperson further emphasized the need for national government and stakeholders to create an environment where everyone feels save and have basic access to SRHR products and services. “A prosperous Liberian society requires access to comprehensive, quality, gender-responsive and inclusive SRHR so that all Liberians and in particular women, girls, sexual minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons in vulnerable situations (i.e.; persons living with HIV/AIDS), have the tools, information and services to make choices, assert their rights and control over their bodies; their sexuality and to use services that enable them to exercise with full dignity, their fundamental human rights to healthy sexual health and decision making over their reproductive rights” she concluded.

However, UN Special Rapporteur on Rights and Health who served as keynote speaker, Dr. Tialeng Mofokeng, cautioned women to resist the odds and fight for their rights; stressing that women lives depend on their rights as such they should not wait to obtain it but go for it.
“The right to health is an exclusive right; You must resist! You must resist! you must resist! our lives depend on it; Our rights can’t wait,“ Dr. Mofokeng stressed.

Also speaking, the Swedish Ambassador to Liberia H.E Urban Sjostrom admonished Liberians to fight harder for their rights and the generation to come.

Ambassador Sjostrom told Rights Activists that in order for their plights to be fully implemented they need to engage the Liberian Legislature to make and approve laws in favor of women. “Don’t just sit here; Make your voices heard all the way to the senate to approve health laws,” the Swedish Ambassador noted.

Meanwhile, the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, Jewel Howard Taylor gracing the occasion challenged everyone for support if Liberia must achieve Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights.

According to Vice President Taylor, SRHR is everyone’s business; as such, it requires a collective effort of every Liberian. “SRHR is a national issue that requires everyone’s efforts; We can not achieve this single handedly, we need the effort of everyone in this fight,” the Liberian Vice president added.

The 3-days event which was organized by the Amplifying Rights Network (ARN) was supported and sponsored by the Embassy of Sweden, the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU), in partnership with Ministry of Health, Kvinna Kvinna, UNFPA, WaterAid, SAAF, and DKT international Inc. Liberia. Others are Clinton Health Access Initiative, Medica Liberia, Forumciv, Actionaid, and the Liberian Red Cross.

Amplifying Rights Network is a coalition of 11 civil society organizations from diverse backgrounds with an aim to contribute to advancing Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights through the promotion of social justice, evidence-based and accountability.

Those coalition organizations include Women in Media, Youth Alive, Rural Women’s Right Structure, West Point Women for Development Initiatives and Community Health Care Initiatives amongst others.

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