The New Dawn (Monrovia)

Liberia: Lack of Parental Care Leads to Prostitution - President Sirleaf

President Ellen Johnson-Sirlreaf has expressed concern about the lack of parental guidance which she said should claim the attention of all parents in the country to instill moral values in their children.

"The lack of parental care," she said, "has greatly led to prostitution." The President said there were still challenges, especially in schools about assault on girls, adding that her government was considering lots of options for girls who have been assaulted by teachers without being afraid of repercussion from the assaulter.

She challenged women's organizations to keep up their advocacy to uplift women and their works, noting that women are still great partners in all areas of life and they needed to be tapped in order to experience their potential.

According to a press release issued in Monrovia by the Executive Mansion, the Liberian leader spoke at the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium during a Roundtable Donor Dialogue organized by the Ministry of Gender and Development over the weekend.

President Sirleaf said the government sees the protection of woman as a primary responsibility and informed the audience that significant progress is being made in that direction, and solicited the support of partners. According to her, despite the challenges women face, they are still the largest actors in the agricultural sector.

She pledged government's commitment to further create the enabling environment for the sustenance of their livelihood and government's effort to improving the lives of women and planning to increase the import tariff on eggs in an effort to protect local egg producers.

Earlier, Gender and Development Minister, Mrs. Julia Duncan Cassell, outlined a number of interventions by government, including the "Empowerment Program for Adolescent Girls (EPAG)" and the recently launched "Girls Behind Wheels Program."

EPAG affords girls and young women the opportunity to be trained in life management skills that has over the years paid off for a lot of girls and young women in the country.

Under the "Girls Behind Wheels Program", Minister Cassell said women are now being employed as heavy duty drivers by the National Transit Authority (NTA).

Women that have been trained have begun grouping themselves into a cooperative and are now thinking of owning and managing a fleet of commercial taxis to transport passengers around town.

Minister Cassell used the roundtable dialogue to appeal to donors and partners to help Liberian women realize their dreams as they have demonstrated a great potential for bigger investments.

The roundtable dialogue was attended by partners, including the United Nations Development Fund for Women, (UNIFEM), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), among others.

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