Buchanan, Grand Bassa County - Women Initiative for Self Help (WISH) Liberia, Inc. has ended a two-day workshop on its nine months project title, ‘Rescue My Sister,’ in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County.
The project is an advocacy for abandonment of Female Genital mutilation (F.G.M) practices, violence against women and girls in rural communities and promoting and encouraging girls to go to school in-order to increase women capacity in decision making.
The workshop brought together participants from a cross section of the Liberian society including teachers, community leaders, religious leaders, youth leaders, and students, representatives of the civil society and the county authority of Grand Bassa County.
During the workshop, participants were taught about the root causes of gender based violence and the harmful effects of Female Genital Mutilation or F.G.M and the need to sensitize young girls about the importance of education, the negative impact of early marriages amongst others.
Speaking during the workshop, the program officer of Women Initiative for Self Help and one of the lead facilitators of the workshop, Madam Louise Harvest Hilton said the ‘Rescue My Sister’ project has been a dream of the Executive Director of Women Initiative for Self Help to advocate for girls in the rural communities to turn away from early marriages and F.G.M and focus on education in-order for them to become productive women in the Liberian society.
“I am not against cultural practices; all I am promoting is education, I am still asking them to continue their practice, but they should allow the girls to grow up and be mature and desire for themselves whether they want to go in the sande bush” Madam Hilton explained.
“They should stop forcing the girls into the traditional society, because when you force a person against their will, it is a human right’s violation. All we are promoting is for the girls to be willing to go into the sande society” she continued.
According to Mrs. Louise Harvest Hilton, the practice of Female Genital Mutilation or F.G.M is done with harmful instruments that are used on many girls at the same time, without sterilizing the instruments which causes several medical conditions for the girls including Fistula and other infections and also makes some of them traumatized for the rest of their lives.
For his part, the Imam representing the Muslims religion at the workshop, Imam Mohammed L. Gaytaweh of the Vai Town Mosque in Buchanan City called on men in Liberia to respect the rights of women and to treat them with love and kindness.
“Let the women have their will, let the women have their freedom. We must give our women the free will to think who they are” he averred.
Imam Gaytaweh dismissed global perception that Muslims are violent people; adding that Islam is a loving caring and peaceful religion. “I want to call on all men to stop violence against women” he concluded.
Meanwhile, the Protocol and Communication Officer of Grand Bassa County, Eddie Williams encouraged women and girls at the workshop to take advantage of every opportunity that the government has made available for women empowerment in the country.
Mr. Williams said in terms of decision making in Liberia, women have not done enough for themselves; citing the number of female Lawmakers at the National Legislature compared to the number of registered female voters in the country.
He furthered that women have continuously placed themselves in the back and look up to the men for everything they need and as such they have been seen as inferior to the their male counterparts.
“An empowered women’s community is a vibrant way of developing a nation” Williams intoned.
“The government of Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has done more to empower Liberian women and to give them voice among men in Liberia and the global community” he stated.
At the same time, participants of the workshop thanked WISH for the project and said they will go into the rural communities to inform the traditional people about the importance of girls’ education and the need to stop forcing young girls into early marriages and F.G.M practices, which according to some of them has now taken different trend from what it used to be in the past.
The ‘Rescue My Sister’ project is funded by AmplifyChange-UK and implemented by Women Initiative for Self Help (WISH) Liberia Inc.