The Assistant Labour Minister for Labour Standards, Atty. Welma Baye Sampson, says the Ministry of Labour is working to ensure that employers in the country have a clear and defined sexual harassment policy to protect women and men from harassment at work places in Liberia.
She said that the Ministry is making efforts to ensure women's rights are protected both within the Ministry and other workplaces across the country, noting that "the protection of women rights is the heart of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD)."
"We have been creating awareness on the rights of women at work including paid-for maternity leave, nursing breaks and flexible work schedule for nursing mothers at work."
Assistant Minister Sampson made the statement on Friday, March 8, 2019 at program marking the Installation of Officers of the Ministry of Labour Women Association (MOLWA), held at the Ministry of Labour in Monrovia.
The event also coincided with the observance of the International Women's Day, which was held under the theme:"Think Equal, Build Smart and Innovate for Change." The National Theme was: "Gender Equality for Innovators and not the Consumers of Innovation."
"People use the internet to degrade women, gossip, throw hints and share degrading articles and nude photos about women. Innovation is shaping and changing the way we live as a people and we have to be intentional about its use to positively impact the lives of women and girls. That means, it is time we got involved in making sure that women and girls are not only consumers of innovation, but take our place as innovators."
She admonished the newly inducted leadership and members of the MOLWA that it is time that they build network, a cycle that will be a support system to fellow women noting that "women group should not be a space of gossip, envy and jealousy instead, it should be a space of support and learning."
Atty. Sampson added that dissemination of information among women should no longer be an issue when they can create a WhatsApp group chat to get messages across. "Leaving work early because of unexpected period need not be an issue when a women can feel comfortable with a support group and send an emergency alert requesting a sanitary pad from a sister within the network."
"Our workplace should be a safe haven. Sexual harassment should not be the basis we change our career path. When we feel we are being sexually harassed, we should not hesitate to speak about it. We should look in the face of our harasser and say stop. If you are too shy, get a sister involved, share with your network and they will find a decent way to approach the harasser.
She called on women in the country to design and execute solutions for women and girls from the creation of decent work to the delivery of products, services and infrastructure for women in all walks of life.
The Assistant Labour Minister cautioned the incoming leadership to study the issues outlined and be on the frontline to engage women and girls; educating them on the importance of using innovation and technology to address issues affecting women and girls.
She used the occasion to expressed sadness over the passing of two great women of Liberia Madam Ruth Caesar and Senator Geraldine Doe Sherif who she said they were women of power and grace.
"They were involved in pushing women agenda around the country and in their areas of work. They were women we listened to on radio and read about in newspapers every time talking about the rights of women and I hope our quest for gender equality is a fitting tribute to their legacy.
For her part, the newly inducted President of the Ministry of Labour Women Association Mrs. Deborah Davis Gray, praised the outgoing leadership of the Association for holding the women of the Ministry together during their tenure and the successful holding of a free and fair elections which resulted to a leadership coming into office to continue their good work.
Mrs. Gray said that it is important to recognize the efforts of partners who helped in making the program a success, particularly the Minister of Labor and his hardworking team for the opportunity given them to celebrate such a historic day. She also thanked the men of the Labor Ministry for the high level of support she and other women have enjoyed over the years.
The MOLWA President was quick to apologize to those she might have offended at any point in time.
"Our leadership's arms are open to listen to suggestions from all employees, including the former leadership, most especially constrictive criticism. We will also encourage dialogue and we make tangible recommendations which we believe will help the Ministry to progress as a family. Our administration was elected on the platform of respect for every employee's view and not discussing each other in the corridors, because unity is the best way to enhance the workings of any association."
Those inducted were: Mrs. Deborah Davis Gray, President, Mrs. Dorian L. Kanneh, Vice President, Mrs. Nyama Gborkorquelle Dorko, Secretary and Ms. Enad Harris, Financial Secretary.
Several female employees and members of the Ministry of Labour Women Association received certificates of appreciation for their dedicated service and their commitment to the promotion of programs at the Ministry.
Those certificated were: Atty. Yvette Freeman, Deputy Minister for Administration; Ms. Sanniah Kollie, outgoing president of the Association; Madam Ophelia Tarm, former vice president; Mrs. Irena R. Sherif, former Secretary General; and Madam Rita Cooper, Financial Secretary.