Monrovia – Top Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have begun to hold stakeholders’ engagement meetings aimed at advocating for tangibles and urgent actions to be taken in increasing budgetary support for Sexual Gender-Base Violence (SGBV) survivors of in Liberia.
The survivor’s support stakeholders meeting is being held by the Survivors Support Coalition (SSC) in partnership with the National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL) and Help Our People Excel (HOPE), with support from the European Union (EU) through OXFAM.
The one-day event which was conducted on Wednesday December 8, was held under the theme: “Stand with SGBV Survivors” Advocating for tangible and urgent actions for SGBV survivor’s support.
This program is part of the 16 days of Activism held under theme: “Orange the World: End Violence Against Women Now!” and national theme: “Enough Is Enough! Let’s Act Now to End Violence Against Women, Girls, Children and Other Marginalized Groups.”
The stakeholders’ engagement meeting brought together stakeholders from the House of Representative, Ministry of Education (MOE), Minister of Gender Children and Social Protection (MOGSP) Ministry of Justice (MOJ), the National Civil Society Council of Liberia, the media, International NGOs and local NGOs.
At the opening of the meeting, Alfreda Foboi-Nymah reveals that the group has discovered through community engagements the increase in compromise of rape cases across their project affected areas in Liberia while attributing the cause to the Justice system.
According to Mrs. Foboi-Nymah, most of these rural communities have got no strong Justice systems in place to curb SGBV issues or bring the perpetrators to Justice at the end the day, stating “most cases reach the compromising table.”
“Our goal is to ensure tangible and urgent actions for survivors’ support while promoting legal compliant policies, laws and programs which are properly resourced, implemented and monitored in order to realize the rights of SGBV survivors in the country,” Madam Foboi-Nymah asserted.
She indicated that HOPE has been in the area of advocacy for women and girls’ health needs; focusing on sexual and reproductive health, adolescents’ rights and gender inequalities that are keeping victims from assessing basic health services.
Mrs. Foboi-Nymah said her organization recently launched a campaign called “Stand with SGBV Survivors” to ensure tangible actions from duty bearers.
It may be recalled in 2020, President George M. Weah declared Rape a “National Emergency” his declaration follows a 3day nation-wide protest by several CSO groups across Liberia, thereby holding an Anti-Rape and SGBV stakeholders’ conference. At the Conference, the Government committed US$2M towards the fight.
National Civil Society Council Secretariat, Lisa Kindervater Sieh, also stressed the need for CSOs to follow the different commitments of the government and their roles and different responsibilities as they engage effectively.
Madam Kindervater indicated that as CSO groups and as the parent body of CSOs in Liberia, it is their role to coordinate, supervise monitor dialogue and work with member base organizations to create network and solidarity around the work that they do.
“We are focused around 17 thematic areas and SGBV is one of the main issue that we are trying to work with members to fight against,” she said.
Madam Sieh acknowledged that CSOs are on the front lines and know that they play key roles in creating awareness, and continue to provide support for SGBV victims in Liberia.
She said despite all of the efforts by these civil society actors SGBV issues continue to persist in society. We still have to remind the government of its responsibilities and what they need to act more and address SGBV issues in the country.”
River Cess District #1 Representative, Rosana GD Schaack, told the gathering that when it comes to law and budgeting for survivals it is not an event but a process, adding that it takes the efforts of everyone as stakeholders to see that the issues of SGVBV survivors are kept at a top priority.
Rep. Schaack who currently serve as Chair for the Women Legislative Caucus, also revealed that as part of efforts to ensure that the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection (MOGSP) get the necessary budgetary increment in the draft national budget of 2022, she has been working hard with the Ministry and relevant committees at the legislature.
“The MOGSP has also been working to see where they are currently, what are the updates they have so that we can work with them. Our responsibility as policy makers we have an oversight,” she said
She further disclosed that recently the Ministry was able to hand over the Survivors Support booklet the booklet is a document where the Ministry prepared its plans of actions for survivors support.
“We had other preparations meetings with the Ministry to look at their plans, look at what was allocated first for them, one of their challenges were the issues of personals calls, growth and services when it comes to the institutions that provide subsidies for them.” She added.
“We are doing all we can to see what budget will be for MOGSP beginning January 2022.” At the same time she said while the legislature deliberate on the national budget she is confident that the 2021 national budget for the Ministry will be increased to adequately support for Survivors of SGBV.
While the 54th national legislature is deliberating on the draft 2022 national budget.