Lady Justice Center-Liberia, United Students Association Join Forces to Combat Violence Against Women and Girls
Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County– Lady Justice Center-Liberia and the United Students Association have formed a ‘formidable’ collaboration to speak against all forms of violence against women and girls.
By Kamata Quayee, Jr., Contributing Writer
As a kickoff of the campaign, the organizations conducted a day long town hall meeting with cross sections of citizens in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County.
Matters pertaining to the protection of the rights of women and girls described as the traditional victims of sexual and gender based violence currently on the increase in Liberia were highlighted.
The meeting also focused on the harmful traditional practice of female genital mutilation, discrimination against women, girls and disabled.
The role of rural women in fighting bribery and SGBV in schools, and the Ministry of education’s involvement in handling them also top the dialogue.
Speaking at the event, the head of the Rural Women organization, Grand Gedeh Chapter, Madam Jesadeh Barzon encouraged the students to engage the issues affecting them politely and more constructively, adding they should be calm in their advocacies as the process is gradual.
Madam Barzon called on the female students to form alliances to proficiently champion their causes.
Speaking further, she called on the girls to take their lessons more seriously in order to avoid falling into traps of teachers who might request bribes or abuse them for grades. At the same time, she admonished the men and boys to desist from being troublesome, urging them to help maintain the peace.
The meeting held on Friday, April 16 at the Zwedru Youth Center also featured several guests from human rights and advocacy based organizations who spoke to the over 200 participants.
Madam Siede William-Kopah, the newly appointed District Education Officer (DEO) of Tchien District, told participants during her presentation that there are existing policies of the Ministry of Education (MOE) prohibiting all forms of violence against girls in schools.
Madam William-Kopah called on school girls to make use of the MOE referral pathways provided by the Teachers’ Code of conduct of Liberia to make known every necessary complaint.
She assured the prosecution of teachers if found guilty, and also advised students to do away with close relationships with teachers which may give them the chances to take advantage of them unexpectedly; and admonished the girls to study their lessons well and always dress decently.
Also speaking, Mr. Kai Gee of the Real Issues Media Blog notified the students of the media readiness to help fight sexual and gender based violence and every form of abuse against women and girls. He mentioned that the students are the change makers and should not be afraid to speak if they have burning issues.
Meanwhile, the Program Officer of the Lady Justice-Liberia, Ms. Salamatu Appleton thanked the invited guests and students for attending the meeting and urged the participants to make positive use of the knowledge impacted in order to fight SGBV and eradicate every form of violence against women and girls.
Lady Justice-Liberia is a national nongovernmental feminist organization founded by Ms. Hawa Metzger, a Liberian activist based in the United States; while the United Students Association (USA)-Liberia Is a Students based organization which is involved in educating students how to be productive in society, promoting academic excellence and mentoring students to be good and vibrant public Speakers. It was founded in October 24, 2016 and its current president is Mr. Steve W Collins.
Meanwhile, participants, at the end of the meeting, thanked the organizers for the initiative and anticipate more of similar events in the county.
The citizen’s dialogue was held under the theme: ‘Ending all forms of Violence against Women and Girls’ brought together high school students and the disabled communities, amongst other local feminist groups in the county.