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Rural Community Leaders Vow to Uphold Women’s Rights, Protect Women from Sexual & Gender-Based Violence

Jubilant community leaders posed at the end of a three-day anti-SGBV training in Bensonville, Montserrado County

Bensonville, Montserrado County – Over 100 community leaders from Gbarpolu, Margibi and Montserrado Counties have recommitted themselves to respect the rights of women and girls.

They vowed to protect them from Sexual and Gender and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in their respective communities.

The leaders, including men and women, made the vow at the end of a month-long pilot training aimed at creating awareness on SGBV and enlightening community leaders in responding and addressing SGBV cases in their communities.

In addition to the anti-SGBV campaign, several women groups are being trained in basic agriculture productivity and business management skills. 

The exercise is part of a three-year project funded by the European Union (EU) Delegation to Liberia and is being implemented by Action Aid Liberia in partnership with Community Health Initiatives (CHI) in Gbarpolu, Margibi and Montserrado Counties.

Justina Kamara, Program Coordinator of Action Aid Liberia termed the training and engagements with the community leaders as fruitful and called on them to implement what they have learned.

“Thank you for your participation. In the wake of all what is happening in our communities, the increase in violence against women, especially rape, we hope from this training, you will be capacitated and get back to your communities and help your people to address those things that are affecting them,” she urged.

Speaking at the training for beneficiaries of Montserrado County on Friday, June 28 in Bensonville, participants and beneficiaries thanked Action Aid and partners for the program and vowed to implement what they learned.

“I extend my thanks and appreciation to Action Aid Liberia. Most of us didn’t know the laws, but today we are getting to know the rights of women, children, the domestic violence law and law against child abuse,” said Ismael Kamara, Community leader, Banjor, Montserrado County.

“From this workshop today, more women are being enlightened and some of them don’t know their rights now. On Domestic Violence, we were thought, as men, not to use force against our women. We should treat the women to thrive and reach their potential. And this we pledge to do.” 

“Amina Menipalay, Youth Chairperson, Upper Caldwell added: “Some of the things we were thought were very strange to me. We have been armed to protect ourselves from those various forms of violence against us,” she said. 

She continues: “From the training I now know how to take care of myself. I will go out there and share the knowledge. We learned about the family planning method, which I will tell my friends that it is not harmful when you take it the proper way. The customary law which states that you don’t have to repay dowry when you no longer want your man. We didn’t know at first. Sometimes these men play on us and demand their money back. For this reason, we remain in slavery and don’t know the way out. But now that we know, we can go out there and spread the message.”

Meanwhile, as part of the project, EU donated a mini grant of US$761 to several women groups from the implementing counties as a start-up for their small businesses. 

“We did not know how to manage our small businesses before. We established but then it will break down all because we didn’t have the business management skills. We never knew how to serve customers, and to keep records but today, after this training, we can boost that we are able to run our businesses to grow and we will use this money for the right purpose,” a delighted Finda Bakalie, Women Chairlady of Low Cost Village averred.