By: Laymah Kollie
Monrovia -December 7,2023-WTVNEWS: The United Nations in Liberia in observance of the 16 days of Activism awarded certificates of Appreciation to twenty nine (29) Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Liberia. The occasion held at the One UN House on 1st street Sinkor December 6,2023 was intended to recognize the efforts of CSOs working in Liberia to mitigate Gender Based Violence against women and children and other human rights issues.
The organizations certificated were: Helping Our People Excel (HOPE), Rescue Women Liberia (RWL), Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia (Wongosol), Women Human Rights Defenders Network, Community Health Education and Social Services, Lofa Women Network Liberia Inc. (LOWON-L), Liberia Network of People Living with HIV (LibNep+) Inc.
Others are: Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), Progressive Youth for Community Safety Initiative (PYCOSI), Actionaid Liberia, Southeastern Women Development Association (SEWOODA), Sisters Hand Liberia (SHL) National Union Organization of the Disabled (NUOD), Inc. amongst others.
Giving special remark on behalf of the UN Secretary General, Ms. Christine Umutoni , Resident coordinator of the United Nations in Liberia outlined the significance of human rights defenders in the fight against GBV and other forms of violence against women.
According to Madam Umutoni CSOs in Liberia play a crucial role driving progress towards a more equitable and violence free world for women.
“the UN alone cannot achieve this ambitious role. Women’s human rights defenders are one category of the multiple partners in the cause. They are essential partners in tackling gender-based violence and driving progress towards a more equitable and violence-free world for women and girls.
The UN acknowledges that being a human rights defender is a difficult task. The demanding work expected from defenders, including providing life-saving services to survivors of gender-based violence and driving policy change in ending violence against women and girls, is often underfunded” madam Christine said.
She further lamented on the risks, threat, harassment and detention rights activists go through in their daily work. The UN Resident Coordinator stressed the importance of recognizing these CSOs efforts as a way of appreciating and encouraging them to do more.
“Yet, the work performed by human rights defenders is associated with risks of harassment, threats, and sometimes detention. In some instances, women’s rights defenders face resistance in their work as they are perceived as enemies of the traditional notions of family and gender roles.
The UN highly appreciates the work women’s rights defenders do and will continue to support and advocate for the legitimacy of this work. Today, the UN wishes to celebrate our collaboration through a public recognition of your efforts which aligns with our respective mandates in making a difference in the lives of others. Thank you for being partners of trust”
Also, Madam Fatima Gebi who spoke on behalf of UN Women stressed for more efforts by higher authorities to protect and save guide women rights activists.
The UN Women statement flagged out the need for laws to be Legislated inorder for the rights defenders to be protected while applying their responsibilities.
“Their right to participate and express their independent views are non-negotiable. We must guarantee an environment that enables their work, including legislation that protects and supports them and holds accountable those who attack them”
It however called for consistency in funding from donors and partners as a way of effortlessly fighting GBV against women and girls.
“We must ensure rapid and flexible funding for their work. We must streamline governmental procedures for granting asylum or temporary relocation for women human rights defenders at immediate risk, and for supporting women who live in exile so that they can continue their activism.
And we must ensure, always, that our support for their efforts is consistent, resolute and visible. When we highlight the work of women human rights defenders, we assert their legitimacy and afford them some measure of protection that makes it harder for perpetrators to attack them with impunity”
However, the award recipients lauded UN for the recognition and promised to do more in their advocacies.
Madam Alfreda Nmah Executive Director of Helping Our People Excel (HOPE) sees the recognition as an opportunity to advance her capacity in reaching out to the needy.
“I appreciate UN so much for this certificate. It shows that our efforts through the years is being recognized and appreciated. This means a lot to me and my Institution and we will continue to do more”
Moreover, Mr. Matthias Yeanay of the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD ) also extended his heartfelt gratitude to UN in Liberia for their support to CSOs in the fight against GBV.
“We appreciate UN for their continuous support to CSOs in Liberia for the fight against GBV and other human rights issues. As we have been doing, we will continue to work with our people, the survivors and family members”
Meanwhile, the occasion was jointly celebrated in accordance with International Women Human Rights Day and 16 days of Activism.