Monrovia — Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, Ingrid Wetterqvist on Tuesday hosted virtual 2020 Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development focusing on COVID-19 implications for stability and women-led responses to the crisis.
The forum was held in partnership with SIPRI and Kvinna till Kvinna.
The panel comprised Liberia's Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection - Williametta Piso Saydee-Tarr; Mrs. Naomi T. Solanke, Director - CHI; Mrs. Nelly Cooper, Director - WHWPDO; Petra Tötterman Andorff, Secretary-General - Kvinna till Kvinna; and Mari Paz Ortega Rodriguez, Head of Office - Kvinna till Kvinna.
The panel recognized that as Liberia enforces emergency measures in response to the pandemic, reports of women in the informal sector being adversely affected has increased, including some of them being reduced to beggars; decreased access to SRHR products and the implications of high teenage pregnancies, domestic violence, loss of livelihoods and income impacting lives that are already precarious.
The panel further acknowledged that it is next to impossible to practice social distancing in neighborhoods like West Point, where there is no space. The curfew at 3 pm causes additional suffering - and there are calls for the authorities to respond to this in a more appropriate manner; for example, lifting the curfew and providing essentials, like food. The needs of the citizens must be at the center. Women are among the first responders in this pandemic, as well as they were during the Ebola epidemic.
In response, Minister Saydee-Tarr, reiterated the positive role Liberian women are playing as first responders, both at the grassroots and national levels to ensure women specific needs ranging from economic issues, violence and sexual and reproductive health are effectively addressed. She emphasized the importance of working through existing community structures, and directly supporting women groups, for better community engagement.
The panel concluded that a national response must take this fact into account and meet women's defined needs. Localized, innovative and out-of-the-box solutions are needed in Liberia.
According to Amb. Wetterqvis, Sweden's support to the UN global appeal and other partners to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on women is buttressed on the ground through political dialogue and communication with representatives of the Liberian government, cooperation with UN agencies - UN Women, UNFPA, UNICEF, funding to international and national NGOs - Kvinna till Kvinna, Forum Syd, Action Aid Liberia and civil society groups to meet community needs.
The Embassy of Sweden in Monrovia is also working with local partners such as DKT to ensure the sexual reproductive health rights of men and women are met.
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