Liberia: Gbowee Foundation Trains Women as Peace Brigades
Todoee, Montserrado County – The Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa in collaboration with the Women Peace and Humanitarian Fund and Spotlight Initiative are training women as “Peace Brigades” in five communities in Montserrado, Greater Monrovia, Todee, Careysburg, St. Paul River and Commonwealth.
The training, which began in Todee, is being held under the theme: “Sustain the Peace”. Gbowee Peace Foundation Program Manager, David S. Konneh, said the project seeks keep the peace, hence the organization sought to involve women.
“We are training women in keeping the peace, to address violence against women in various communities. We will work in 75 communities in Monrovia and will be training 10 women in each of the five communities to address violence against women and girls’ cases,” said Mr. Konneh.
“Look at how rape is on the increase in our society today, so we want women to address the issue instead of solving it.”
Konneh said 1,500 women will be trained during a period of 18 months – until November 2021 – in 66 communities of Grand Gedeh County.
“And the women will be involved in community engagement, community outreach and social media and the women are expected to come up with jingles to present at the end of their training,” he said.
Julian Jugbeh Nelson, Program Officer of Gbowee Peace Foundation, speaking on conflict prevention and Response, stressed that since conflict is misunderstanding, women should avoid conflict in their homes.
Highlightingthe issues of rape, sexual and gender based and domestic violence around the country, Ms. Nelson said women should report violent against them, most especially when their husbands are beating them.
Atty. Deddeh K. Zaza of the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia, (AFELL) lectured the participants on peace and security obligations during political and electoral violence and how to prevent their children from participating in electoral violence of any kind.
She also spoke on human rights and domestic violence and those affected by domestic violence, which includes women, girls, men, and boys.
“Women report domestic violence, when your husband beat you and you compromise it and your children sees it, they too will become violent, because they would think it is good,” she said
At the end of the peace and security session, women were asked about their understanding of electoral laws and why political parties are violating electoral protocols. They also asked question on the different forms of violence.
Bennetta Holder Warner of Liberia Female Law Enforcement Association, (LIFLEA), spoke to the participants about monitoring and reporting SGVB cases.
“Many people reporting rape cases will not continue with the cases and because the law cannot allow a perpetrator to stay in Police cell after 48 hours. The perpetrators are normally released because many of the victim’s parents do not follow up the cases. Some people parents prefer to compromise the cases to talk it the family cases. Do not allow your church people to tell you to leave the case and let God judge the case,” she said
“Women you should be careful in how you handle rape cases, most especially when the perpetrator has not been arrested, or the perpetrator might escape.”
She added that even though the police and court do not have the logistic to report and assign rape cases, it does not give them the right to take money from people who report rape cases.
“If the police and people at the court ask you for money, you have the right to report the situation,” she said.
Ruth Kollie, a resident of Todee, said she was “very happy to be a part of the program because it will help to expose her’.
“The program is alright because some people can beat their women and their children and when we talk about it, they can tell us it is not our business, but with this program, we will be able to advise our friends.” She said
At the end of the interactive session, the participants shared some experiences and witness the movie, ‘Pray the Devil back to Hell’
At the end of the session, women shared their various experiences about different kinds of violence occurring in their communities. The participants also shared ideas as to how to solve some of the ongoing problems in their own communities.