SGBV, A Threat to Women & Children Security – UN Women

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Buchannan – UN Women has asserted that sexual gender-based violence (SGBV) remains a major threat against the security of women and children in Liberia.

According to UN Women program Manager on GBV Dhogba Mabande, the act is perpetrated because of the unequal power relationships in society between men and women. He outlined the 2017 Statistics from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection which indicated a total of 1685 cases of SGBV reported noting that it reflects the very few women and girls who braved the storm to report the abuse to seek redress.

Mabande was speaking at the start of a weeklong capacity building training on gender sensitive reporting for journalists from across the country in Buchannan, Grand Bassa County. The training seeks to raise awareness of media practitioners and develop effective communication and media skills so that they will highlight gender issues especially, those that affect women and girls.

The training is the 2nd of such engagement since the start of the implementation of the Government of Liberia/United Nations Joints Programming Initiative to prevent and Respond to Sexual and Gender Based Violence. The 1st capacity building initiative on gender sensitive reporting was held in Ganta, Nimba County.

“Violence against women is a serious human rights violation that causes immense pain and suffering and bears huge economic costs. Any form of violence against women is unacceptable,” he said.

Recently, there were increasing reports of sexual and gender-based violence cases throughout the country. The recent case that drew public attention was the beheaded body of Klubo Baysah in Zorzor Lofa County in which residents went on the rampage by burning homes and carry out mob. The increasing wave of violence continues to take to the front pages of media outlets and other media institutions.

Mabande underscored the significant role of the media in perpetuating stereotypes as well as challenging social norms that condone discrimination or violence against women. “The role of the media is very significant in shaping public perceptions about women and men, therefore it is important that reporting avoids any form of gender stereotypes, which often limit and trivialize females as well as present an inaccurate view of the world and its possibilities”.

He indicated that the use of stereotypes reflects a mental block not only in term relations to society’s perceptions and expectations from both men and women but what both sexes expect from themselves.

He cautioned journalists to strive for accuracy and impartiality in other to ensure imbalances in coverage especially with women and their perspectives.

“The media remains a potentially powerful channel of information in a society. The messages they transmit can change or reinforce social norms and behaviors and mobilize citizens to take progressive actions”.

Mabande reiterated UN Women’s collaboration with the media as a key ally in advancing women rights through training on reporting gender sensitivity stories.

Speaking further, Press Union of Liberia Secretary General Daniel Nyankona admonished journalists to focus on gender reporting as a means to lift voices of women and girls in the media.

PUL SG Nyankona noted that the media plays a pivotal role in providing the information and creating the enabling environment for decision-making and as such, issues emanating from the media must be accurate and balanced with a specific focus.

In 2016, as part of the efforts around the 2030 Agenda, UN Women launched the Step it Up for Gender Equality Media Compact in March 2016, calling on media outlets to play their part in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda, with focus on gender equality and women’s rights issues on two fronts: In their reporting, disrupting stereotypes and biases, and in increasing the number of women in the media, including in leadership and decision making roles.

The media compact functions as an alliance of media organization committed to playing an active role in advancing gender issues within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals by scaling up the focus on women’s rights and gender equality issues through high-quality coverage, complemented by gender-sensitive corporate practices.                             

Report by Lisa Diasay, FPA Contributor

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