MONROVIA – Ahead of the 16 Days of Activism, the UN Women recently donated many assorted items for female inmates at the Monrovia Central Prison and for others at other prison facilities across the country.
Madam Yemi Falayajo, UN Women’s Deputy Country Representative donated the items, including handmade washing and bath soap, powdered soap, tooth paste, bath towers, bleach, clothes, shower slippers, sanitary pads, etc.
“On behalf of the UN Women’s Country Representative, Madam Comfort Lamptey, I hand over these items to be given to the female prison ward. UN Women has provided skills trainings to correction officers to enhance their capacity on access to justice for women as well as women rights despite being in prison. This is in lines with our ethics and we do emphasize the dignity of women in respective of their condition. I hope these little donations will help and ease the burden and restore the self-confidence of female inmates. Let me assure you and our sisters in prison, that UN Women takes very keen interest in ensuring that you are treated very well and provide your basic human rights including access to justice. Let me also assure you Mr. Minister that UN Women will continue to provide assistance to the Bureau of Corrections in addressing the needs of the female detainees,” said Madam Falayajo.
Mr. Eddie S. Tarawali, Assistant Justice Minister for Corrections and Rehabilitation, received the items and thanked the UN Women team.
“We deeply appreciate your kind gesture; the UN Women has been very supportive to the Bureau of Corrections. As you may be aware there are 16 prison facilities in our country, all these prisons have female inmates. Against this backdrop, we will like to say to the UN Women these items will be used for the intended purposes and it would not only be used for the Monrovia Central Prison but it will be shared with other prison facilities to enhance dignity to our female inmates,” said Minister Tarawali.
He further said his office will appreciate if the UN Women helps build the capacity of female inmates in soap making, etc. He disclosed that there are approximately 200 female prisoners across Liberia. He also appealed to the UN Women to provide uniforms for female prisoners in order to further dignify them.
“The uniform is going to be very important. It is going to help identify female inmates from ordinary visitors. And it will also help with security within the prison walls,” he stated.
Answering to his request for training for female inmates, Ms. Gboma Karloweah, UN Women’s Program Specialist said the soap donated was made by the rural women structure, which cuts across the 15 counties, with more than 1000 members.
“We train these rural women in different groups, and the first group of 25 trainers, have been the ones training other women. So as my boss said it can be institutionalized, if it’s possible to get female inmates from the various prisons, we can train them as trainers and they can train other female inmates. And as majority of the female inmates are here in the Monrovia Central Prison, we might select more female inmates to be trained. But the idea is to train across the country. We have already put aside in 2023 to work with the Bureau of Corrections on their gender policy and part of it is to empower female prisoners either in the areas of soap making or the extended program we did with them through sewing,” she stated.
Thw UN Women’s Program Specialist hoped that their next donations will be at another prison facility.
Also speaking on his request for skills building Ms. Falayajo said moving forward, they would want to institutionalize how they train women inmates so that it can become more sustainable and be owned by the government. “We are hopeful that the woman prisoners we are going to train will become trainers to other female prisoners,” Falayajo said.