‘We are Part of COVID-19 Fight’ – Gender Ministry Dispels Child Rights Advocate Satta Sheriff Claims
Monrovia – The Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection has reacted to comments made by the former Speaker of the Liberian Children’s Parliament Satta Sheriff that they have been sidelined during the COVID-19 period amid rise in sexual gender-based violence incidents are in the country.
By J.H. Webster Clayeh [email protected]
In a recent statement, Ms. Sheriff, who was elected in 2014 as the first female Speaker of the Liberian Children’s Parliament, questioned the decision by the government to list the Ministry of Gender as a non-essential institution during COVID-19.
Said Sheriff: “As people are asked to stay at home, the risk of intimate partner violence or sexual assault is likely to increase which significantly exposes women and children to the risk of domestic and sexual violence.”
But on the contrary, the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection, in a release on April 28, said the Ministry’s Gender-Based Violence Unit is still open across the country.
The release furthered that the Minister of Gender Children and Social Protection was appointed by President George Weah to serve as a member of the Special Presidential Advisory Committee on Coronavirus (SPACOC).
This, according to the release, means the Ministry was mandated by the President to have the Ministry lead two of the Government’s National Response Pillars in the fight against COVID-19.
The Psychosocial Pillar under the Health Response Team and the Women, Girls, and Children Pillar under the Executive Committee on COVID-19 (ECOC) are the two pillars that the Ministry is involved in during the Coronavirus pandemic, the release stated.
In addition to being the lead on those two pillars, the Ministry said it was appointed by President Weah to serve as a member on the Food Support Steering Committee.
The Ministry also supports the Risk Communications and Community Governance Pillars and has been tagged under ECOC, to coordinate the National Response Call Center (NRCC), the release noted.
“The latter is very important because of the NRCC Call Agents, apart from being the frontline receivers of information of suspected COVID-19 cases, our agents particularly field calls on issues of Sexual and Gender-based Violence. This means the call center setup will double up as a multi-purpose, country-wide referral pathway hotline which will cover issues surrounding SGBV, Child Abuse, Maternal Care, and Safety/Security,” the release stated.
It continued: “MGCSP reiterates its stance on ending all forms of violence against women, girls and children, with keen attention and support from international and national partners, and working with our EVAWG cluster and other local communities, during and after this pandemic.”