LIBERIA: Girls and Young Women Take Action for Peace Project officially launched in Monrovia

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The official launching ceremony of the Girls and Young Women Take Action for Peace Project has taken place in Monrovia, with a call for Liberians irrespective of their political, social and religious backgrounds to embrace peace and shun violence, especially as the much publicized Presidential and Legislative Elections draw closer.

In her welcoming remarks, Plan International Liberia Country Director, Mirriam Murray, wholeheartedly expressed her sincere thanks to all those who graced the occasion for responding to the invitation sent them at a very short notice.

Madam Murrary said, ‘‘Today, we are here to launch a project, a project that involves Plan International Liberia, Government of Liberia(GoL), the Peace Building Fund, and Civil Society, which we do not take lightly with the efforts of the government, donors and other actors that are still making efforts to normalize lives’ situation for our people.’’

Madam Murray recalled that the history of Liberia and its entire Mano River Belt about wars, which affected us, Ebola outbreak and the recent Covid-19 Pandemic, which, according to her, is still fresh in our minds.

She pointed out that she decided to make mention of these three because they led our countries so vulnerable and the after marks of each of these disasters left an inedible mark on our people.

‘‘Our young people, women and girls, children continue to be at the brunt of the confusion and instability our countries continue to face. Each time there is an emergency, women, girls and children suffer most. It affects the international community and human development. There is so much statics to justify this. If we just go back to the recent Covid-19, the pandemic to affected women, girls and children so much. Gender based violence has left most of women now struggling with survivor, health issue and mental issue. It is an enemy of peace and progress,’’ she asserted.

‘‘International, national governments and local actors have to put on their shoulders to make this history. I know it is challenging, it is difficult and almost impossible with God all things are possible. Today, we thank the United Nations Peace Building Fund-donor and the GoL through their efforts we are signing this project so that we can impact the lives of our people,’’ the Plan International Liberia Country Director stated.

‘‘Our efforts to peacebuilding in Liberia is linked to Sierra Leone, Guinea to the sub region, Africa and the world. We don’t want to see those things that took us go back to wars,’’ the Plan International Liberia Country Director further stated.

She then reiterated Plan International Liberia’s commitment to national and human development of our people in Liberia and thanked all for making the official launch a success.

Also speaking at the official launch was Macpherson M.B. Abu, Project Manager, Girls and Young Women Take Action for Peace, who gave a brief description of the project.

Mr. Abu, in his description, said peacebuilding and security have not been translated into actions to eliminate violence against Girls and Young Women.

According to the Gender Inequality Index, Liberia ranks 177th out of 188 countries in this situation.

‘‘Girls and Young Women(aged 18 to 35) have less access to education an d lower literacy. They need to be made aware of available opportunity for civil engagement that could enhance their sense of security financially, politically and physically,’’ Mr. Abu told the gathering.

He stated that they experience difficulties participating safely and meaningfully in peacebuilding activities, stressing that their involvement is also hindered by poverty and economic inequality.

He asserted that Girls and Young Women are down grace to home caregiving, childbearing and other domestic duties, saying, ‘‘As such they are vulnerable to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence(SGBC), harmful practices, Female Genital Mutilation(FGM), child/forced marriage, teenage pregnancy, and limited access to sexual and reproductive health rights.’’

Commenting on the Project Target Counties and Community Peace Hut, the Project Manager, Girls and Young Women Take Action for Peace, disclosed that the project implementation will focus on supporting eight (8) Peace Huts in four (4) counties of Liberia. He named them as two peace huts in Montserrado County(Fish Market and Nyan, Todee District, Montserrado County, one peace hut in Bong County(Peace Hut Headquarter in Totota), three peace huts in Nimba County(Zontuo, Tiapo and Ganta Border) and two peace huts in Lofa County(Konia and Yeala).

Interestingly, the project goal is tom increase Girls and Young Women(GYW) Agency and ability to meaningfully participate in peacebuilding process and that 2620 participants with 85% female and 15% males.

For her part, the Vice President of Liberia, Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor, who delivered the key note address, thanked Plan International Liberia, the Peace Building Fund, the GoL, civil society actors, the media and all for gracing the official launch of the Girls and Young Women Take Action for Peace Project.

Vice President Taylor said the issue of women taking action for peace here in Liberia is not a new story.

According to her, ‘‘it goes all the way back to where we had some our great leaders who have passed away including Ruth Caesar, Mary Brownell and many many others who stood up in the critical years and said that women must stand up for peace, because without peace there can be no development. And without development, there is no peace.’’

She pointed out that the Women of WIPNET/WAPNET has become an international story how in the cause of the wars and crisis they gathered together with many other women and said enough is enough and that if the men wanted to continue to fight they should come through them.

‘‘By them standing up, they were involved in the peace processes and were able to bring the critical hostilities to an end. At this juncture, we are a new stage and I want to thank Our President George Manneh Weah for sustaining the peace from where former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf left it,’’ she further pointed out.

According to her, the issue of peace has many different components.

‘‘Men look at peace in a whole different way and I think women look at it in another line. Peace is my ability to put food on the table and take care of my children. Some say it is a sustained economic empowerment, access to education and health care, an enabling environment where we can speak to issues why things have to change,’’ the Vice President intoned.

She then applauded Plan International Liberia and the Peace Building Fund that is now collaborating with the civil society and the media to begin a new cycle.

‘‘Message needs to be sent to the younger generation. I applaud Plan International Liberia to see the need to begin the necessary information and training, the young people will be told how to work together and promote peace. As we begin to train the young people, they must be trained to look at the signal. We are pushing our children into an environment without providing the basic skills. I hope the training will help in this direction,’’ she, among other things, added.

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