The Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) in collaboration with UN Women has called for more protections for women and girls in Liberia.
The President of AFELL, Attorney Vivian Neal says to protect the rights of women and girls across the country, peace building and rule of law remain key in such endeavor.
According to Atty Neal, this will ensure the growth and development of the country. She spoke in Gbarnga, Bong County over the weekend when AFELL and its partner, UN Women conducted a two-day Gender Responsive Peacebuilding and Rule of Law project training with the National Peace Hut Women of Liberia in Bong County.
The Gender Responsive Peacebuilding and Rule of Law project seeks to enhance the capacities of women and public confidence in the different justice and security institutions in Liberia.
The AFELL boss further said the project will sustainably improve access to justice, security and protection services, especially for women and girls.
She said “the project is closely aligned with the relevant national development goals and strategies as well as the priorities set out in the Liberia Peace building plan and has been designed with a view to ensuring sustainability and linking activities to policy development.”
As part of strategy, the project supports the Peace Hut women of Liberia to be registered as a civil society organization, promote the adoption of gender responsive national legal aid legislation.
Atty. Neal further added “the project provides gender training for legal aid service providers and rights-based organizations to address capacity gaps in the rule of Law, security and justice sectors.”
According to her, the project also supports the capacities of relevant justice sector institutions for case management, data collection monitoring system, research and feedback mechanisms on gender responsiveness of justice institutions.
“Peace hut is where women meet to discuss matters about the communities’ and what is affecting them, which includes peace and stability, family matters, disagreement between husband and wife, violence against women and girls,” she noted.
Atty Neal also indicated that the peace hut provides opportunity for mediation of civil matters affecting target beneficiaries, saying the concept started February 27, 2006 as an idea to continue the mass action of Nobel Laureate Laymah Gbowee at the end of the Liberian civil war.
She said the first peace hut, as an infrastructure was built in 2011 in Henry Town, Gbarpolu County with about 25 peace huts in the 15 counties with over 440 cases been addressed so far.
For her part, UN Women Deputy Representative, Sangeeta Rana Thapa thanked AFELL for the level of work carryout and said her organization is currently constructing four new peace huts in 4 counties; Lofa, Maryland, Nimba and Grand Cape Mount with two undergoing rehabilitation works in Lofa and Nimba.
Madam Thapa said regionally and globally, Liberia’s community peace huts are considered as an example of an innovative mechanism, which is more about supporting and strengthening community dynamics and women’s role in fostering dialogue, mediation, development and seeking justice.
She added that her organization will always help the peace hut; although the UN women expects the peace hut to operate on its own and to be financially sustainable.
She praised the government of Liberia for its process in developing the second phase of the national action plan on women peace and security that will provide a coordination mechanism to link up local practices, experiences and lesson learned with national structures and facilitate increased lesson sharing.
She at the same time encouraged the women to put in more time and fight for lasting peace in Liberia, saying “if the country is peaceful there will be lots of investments and life of people will improve.”
The two days’ workshop which was held in Bong County brought together over 200 women from the 15 counties and they were also given awareness on gender-based violence with emphasis on the rape law and the proposed Cohabitation Bill.