Dear Mr. President;
I present my feminist felicitations to the government of the Republic of Liberia led by you and herein express my disappointment relative to the manner and forms your regime is cosmetically presenting matters that heave women progress in the governance of the state; and you Mr president, your lackadaisical action in the handling of the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Liberia which has come under serious condemnations by national and international rights groups and individuals, I herewith join the silhouette of condemnations as well!
Mr President, the practice of FGM possesses negative health benefits to young females and that its forceful nature infringes on the rights of FGM victims. Again, I hereby draw your attention to what value noting that former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed Executive Order 92 banning Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for one year in (2018). Although this temporary law was a step in the right direction, it only covered girls below the age of 18 and imposed lenient penalties on perpetrators. This temporary ban has now come to an end, leaving Liberian girls and women open to the risk of undergoing FGM once again. Currently, more than half of Liberian women are living with the consequences of the cut and many more are at risk. These women and girls have little choice in this matter, with reports of forced mutilations being common.
Mr. President, as today marks International Day for Women around the World inclusive of Liberian women (Ma Neejay, Lorpu, Dubormah) etc., I urge your government to go beyond mere commitment that intend to entice donor supports but rather initiating a national women dialogue with concrete actions to be taken in addressing emerging issues couple with the already existing traditional ones that have over the past tied down women progress in all forms of decision making as well as the violations of their rights. Let it be known that women rights are human rights and they should enjoy it to the fullest without stoppage and or molestation as it has been, most especially during electoral periods.
Additionally, I also recognise that there are persisting and emerging threats specifically to young women and girls’ rights including shrinking civic space, illiberalism, religious/traditional fundamentalism and militarism amongst others. For Liberia to have an effective and transformative impact for Gender Equality we must consider emerging issues identified as critical to women becoming an integral part as follows:
Allocating accessible, sustainable and adequate resources for advancing gender equality this especially applies to young women and women in all their diversity, including indigenous women, and includes recognition of young women-led innovations and initiatives including philanthropy, sports and volunteerism. Gender-responsive budgets should be adopted to ensure advancement, economic autonomy and protection of the rights of young women and adolescent girls, especially those in marginalized groups.
Shifting social norms recognizing the role of traditions, cultures and religion in regressing the advancement of gender equality and women and girls’ rights and freedoms; there is a need to transform discriminatory norms and values including through promoting positive masculinity for advancing women and girls rights.
Transforming Language It is critical to demystify gender concepts and reclaim language that does not perpetuate domination, patriarchy, ageism, and any form of discrimination, nor undermine the work for which we seek progress on.
Persistent and new forms of violence against young women, adolescent girls persons in all their diversity these are fuelled by deep seated patriarchy, radicalisation, conservatism, militarisation, extractivism, technology, and conflict, which require multiple and multi layered interventions by different actors. Particularly vulnerable to multiple and intersecting forms of violence are sex workers, women human rights defenders, women of sexual minorities, people who use drugs, displaced, migrant and refugee women and girls, indigenous and women in rural and conflict areas.
Access to education there is an unfulfilled need for comprehensive sexuality education for all ages that addresses physical, mental and social well-being as it relates to sexual and reproductive health and rights of young women and girls in all their diversities. It is a missing tool that gives young women and adolescent girls the capacity to combat the issues of teen pregnancy, contraction of HIV/STDs, gender-based violence, early and forced marriage and maternal mortality
In conclusion, I would like to admonish the government through the Gender Ministry to popularize and start holding discussion on the report of the 4th Specialized Technical Committee on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment on the Review of the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action under the Theme: Realizing Women’s Rights for an Equal Future. And, that achieving gender equality for young African women and girls is the shared responsibility of different stakeholders.
Therefore, I demand that everyone in particular the Liberian government takes responsibility, and that there be no exceptions to the realization of fundamental human rights for women and girls based on religion, culture and/or any other value systems.
Amb. Peal P. Hussein-Nyenkan
Founder, Bleeding Pen