The Country Representative of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) Mrs. Marie Goreth Nizigama has called on all stakeholders to take a united action in the relentless fight to end violence against women in schools, educational institutions and all places.
Madam Marie Goreth delivered a keynote address at the official launch of the '16 Days of Activism' in Liberia held on 25 November 2017 at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion in Monrovia.
From the 25 of November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is rolled out to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.
Madam Goreth told guests at the program that it was time for all stakeholders including, individuals, communities and the state to reflect on their responsibilities in addressing the issue of violence against women and girls.
The UN Women Liberia Representative specifically highlighted the role of parents in preventing sexual and gender based violence against their children.
"Parents are equally accountable when they leave their girl child vulnerable in homes, on the road to school and even having them fend on street corners for livelihood," she pointed out.
Madam Goreth spoke of the importance of increased awareness on the issue of violence against women to help address the negative stereotypes and perceptions that perpetuated the abuse of the rights of women and girls.
The UN Women Liberia Representative joined other speakers to call for an end to school related violence, which is the focus of this year's '16 Days of Activism.'
"Accessing quality education is a passport to life's achievements. It empowers girls and boys and promotes better health, development and opportunities. We must therefore address issues such as early child marriage, rape, teenage pregnancy, bullying of girls, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), the lack of basic provisions such as separate rest rooms for girls that exposes girls to SGBV in schools if we are to guarantee equal education for girls and boys," she stated.
The 16 Days of Activism launch event was attended by scores of Liberian women, government officials, representatives from the UN, civil society organizations, international NGOs, and the diplomatic corps, amongst others.
Presenting the official '16 Days' message of the United Nations Secretary General at the event, UN Resident Coordinator in Liberia and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General Mr. Yacoub Elhillo said "without tackling the issue of violence against women and girls, the world will never fulfill the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development".
Mr. Elhillo further said: "It is now widely recognized that violence against women, including harassment and harmful practices, are major barriers to fulfillment of human rights, and a direct challenge to women's inclusion and participation in sustaining peace."
The official launch of the 16 Days of Activism at the weekend was announced by the former Liberian Foreign Minister Olubanke King-Akerele who expressed disappointment in recent moves by the Liberian Senate to amend the country's rape law to make statutory rape a billable offence.
"Now is the time for us to stand up against actions to amend the rape law. It should not be done today, it should not be done tomorrow, it should not be done at all," Honorable Akerele emphasized.
Statistics from the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection have shown that rape against underaged girls form the highest number of cases reported.
This year's 16 Days of Activism is being celebrated under the global theme 'Together we can end gender-based violence in education while the national theme is 'Let's embrace our diversities for safe education and violence free society.'