1 October 2012

Liberia: 'We Demand Access to Justice' - Liberian Women Tell UN Envoy

More than 100 Liberian women on September 26 met with Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Karin Landgren, in Gbarnga, Bong County to call for increased access to justice. The meeting marked the third annual commemoration of the Global Open Day on Women, Peace and Securityin Liberia.

Under the overall theme of "Women Demand Access to Justice," the Global Open Day brought together women community leaders and senior UN leadership, for direct dialogue aimed at accelerating implementation and deepening local ownership of Security Council resolution 1325, adopted in 2000.

Following two days of deliberations, the women presented the SRSG with calls for national dialogue on customary laws affecting women; the need to strengthen women's participation in community policing initiatives and for gender equality in the security and justice sectors; and for enhancing women's access to higher education, skills training and leadership development.

The SRSG highlighted the fact that nearly 18 per cent of the Liberia National Police are women, a great achievement that should serve as a foundation to be built upon. SRSG Landgren heralded the efforts made by the Government of Liberia to increase women's access to justice, including the establishment of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Crimes Units throughout the country.

The UN envoy also reiterated the UN's commitment to continue its support to Liberia's justice sector and to women's full access to justice. She highlighted the UN Peace-building Fund-supported Justice and Security Hub in Gbarnga as one example of the UN system'ssupport towards strengthening the Government's capacity to deliver justice.

According to a release, SRSG Landgren called on the women to draw on their collective experience as peacemakers and mediators to participate effectively in national reconciliation. She also urged the women to make use of the constitutional reform process being initiated in the country as a platformto articulate and amplify their voices.

The Deputy Minister for Gender and Development, Annette Kiawu, who represented the Government at the event, pledged its continued commitment to guaranteeing women's access to justice. Also present at the event were other senior UN and government officials, including the Co-Chair of the Women's Legislative Caucus, Representative Munah Pelham and Bong County Superintendent Selina Polson Mappy.

The event was organized by the UN Gender Theme Group, the Women NGOs Secretariat, and civil society organizations.

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