Monrovia – Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Robertha Gbowee says the unprecedented wave of corruption and huge challenges confronting the health, education and other sectors in Liberia has made the post-conflict nation to be a “breeding ground for ills and vices” on the globe.
Madam Gbowee observed that present day Liberia has become a common place where older men and women sexually involved with girls and boys significantly younger than them without a hint of remorse.
She pointed out that though these acts were in the past considered “abnormal”, such practice of older men and women engaging to sexual affairs with girls and boys has been “normalized and accepted” in Liberia.
Madam Gbowee comments were contained in a statement she posted on her official Facebook page on Monday, October 25.
She observed that drug addiction has also overtaken about a quarter of a million youths in Liberia.
According to her, every community in Liberia has one or more drug den.
She emphasized that barely functional school systems have seen the teaching profession relegated to a place where it has become a “side hustle”.
“Although it is easy to begin by reflecting upon governmental corruption, we need to take a long hard look at who we are presently before envisioning the future. Over time our nation has become the breeding ground for a lot of ills and vices”.
“The health system is where the oath to save and preserve lives is flippantly regarded. Depending on one’s status in society, their medical record may be subject to social media postings without considering the subsequent impact on the individual or their family”.
Madam Gbowee added that the current legal system in Liberia “functions primarily for those who can bribe their way to a favorable decision”.
According to her, justice only exists mainly for the rich and powerful.
She added that honors in Liberia’s religious communities are “priced and bestowed upon the highest bidder”.
Madam Gbowee maintained that women are raped, abused, and mistreated on a regular basis without any legal or social recourse.
Blaming the past
For nearly two decades now, peace and tranquility has been restored to Liberia following brutal civil wars, which lasted for several years and plunged the country backward.
But Madam Gbowee observed that though the country has returned to its pre-war status, Liberians, including government officials continue to blame the prevalent of ills and vices in Liberia today to the country’s past.
She noted that citizens should not continue to shift blame or pay blind eye to the current ills and vices which remain visible in the Liberian society.
“Eighteen years since the silencing of guns, we continue to blame our violent past for our recent shortcomings. I have learned that to solve a query, one must first accept and admit to the presenting problems. Although several Liberians today believe that the core of our problems lies with government operations, many regular citizens remain culpable of some of the acts listed above”.
“We continue to naively refuse to accept that we are contributing to the problems in our country. Let us all take a long look in the mirror as we ask ourselves ‘What will we love about Liberia in 10 years?”
Sad with teary eyes
Madam Gbowee pointed out that she developed teary eyes and was sad for a moment when she was asked by an unidentified person “ten-years from now, what will you love about Liberia?” during a meeting held at an undisclosed location.
“I had no immediate response and didn’t want my answer to be hypothetical. As I pondered over the question, I couldn’t help but think about the current state of our country and how a difference a decade might make”.
In 2011, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.
Since winning the prize, Madam Gbowee has been engaged into initiatives to provide education and empowerment opportunities to hundreds of women and girls in the country, through her organization named and styled Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa (GPFA).
The organization was established in 2012 as a way to ensure that younger generations in Liberia remain peaceful, reconciled, and empowered.
GPFA increases access of women and youth to quality education to reduce their risk of experiencing perpetual poverty.
It provides scholarships, school materials and education support to young people who display academic excellence but experience financial barriers to maintaining engagement in education. GPFA links their scholars to one another through annual retreats and leadership development opportunities. GPFA is also in the process of building a technical high school for girls in Monrovia.
GPFA provides comprehensive leadership training and hands-on experience for young people to help them develop the skills, knowledge and attributes necessary for empowered lives. GPFA trains young people to be peace advocates, peer educators on health and human rights, and leaders in their communities and schools.
The empowerment, participation and leadership of women is a necessary part of Liberia’s pathway to economic development and peace. To empower local communities and improve women’s participation in private and public decision-making, GPFA provides spaces for women to connect with one another and to develop and use the skills and knowledge needed for the journey of leadership. GPFA also uses public radio to widen the debate about the role of women in the public sphere.