Get To The Drugs Root

By Mark N. Mengonfia

MONROVIA-Liberian women joined the world over in celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD), as one of the celebrations points discussed how drugs are damaging the lives of Liberian youth.

The day was celebrated all over Liberia as government institutions and nongovernmental organizations planned different programs in commemorating it.

One of the institutions that celebrated the IWD this Tuesday, March 8, 2022 was the Angie Brooks International Centre for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security.

Hundreds of women from the counties of Liberia, political parties women started with a grand parade on the streets of Monrovia and ended up at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where they had a roundtable discussion in the Cecil Dennis Conference Hall.

Their discussions were centred around how women can make their way at the table of decision making.

But during the roundtable discussion, women who are the bearers of children could not allow the day to pass by without speaking about how Liberian children are falling prey to drugs on a daily basis.

Olubanke King Akerele, Liberia’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the cabinet of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is the chairperson of the board at the Angie Brooks International Centre for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security.

Madam Akerele spoke passionately about the issue of drugs and how it is damaging the future of Liberian children.

She was mad at women in various communities who have given themselves to selling the harmful substance to the youngsters of the Country.

She said the only way the issue of drugs will leave the market is by first getting to the root of it.

Those who are importing the products (drugs) should be the ones authorities in government should focus their attention on.

“There are too many big hands and big people involved in this drugs thing but to hear that our women are involved is ridiculous,” the 75 years old woman said looking in the faces of those women who have gone to grace the IWD.  

The women said those who are in the habit of selling of drugs to Liberian kids in particular and the public should face the law and it should be a non-bailable crime with very harsh punishment.

Julia F. Russell, a district commissioner of Wanhasa District in Lofa said, “The thing is all over in the villages.”

She said back in those days when a child is misbehaving, the parents of that child would send the child in the rural communities for said child to be reprimanded.

“It has changed; there is no interior this time.  Everywhere has children taking drugs” she said.

Russell said the most discouraging thing is that most of those people who are vendors of those harmful drugs are women.

“The thing is put in food, when they are fixing party food, they put it inside. It is serious and we all need to do something about it before all of our children spoil” the Wanhasa District Commissioner said in a passionate tone.

Kou Dorkago, head of the Todee Rural Women pointed out that one of the things she wondered about was that government has Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA), Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) Police at various checkpoints and other security apparatus, but drugs keep making its way on the Liberian market and damaging the future of Liberia’s next generation.

Speaking on other issues, the women who gathered in a cycle at the Foreign Affairs Conference Room listed reasons that kept them back.

Some of the issues they said, have kept them back include finance, education, skill training, traditional and religious stumbling blocks.

According to the women because of those factors, they sometimes sit at the back and watch the men speak.

Some of the women who have gone through training conducted by the Angie Brooks International Centre were grateful that they learn how to speak without causing problems in their various homes and communities.

Some boosted that they have managed to leave the back seats and are making impacts in their communities, something they said was lacking years back.

Cllr. Dr.  Yvette Chesson Wureh, is the establishment coordinator of the Angie Brooks International Centre was encouraged the women to see themselves as partners to their male counterparts and not as those who should only occupy the back seats.

She told them to that there are women who are not educated, but have made significant impacts and have made a great difference in the world.

“What are the challenges that are stopping women from going forward? Let me tell you something, I do not care if you went to school or not, you will fit at the table because I know of women who did not go to school but are doing things more than me who have Ph.D” she said.

Brief history of International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day was first celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March 19, 1911, following the agreement at the Copenhagen conference. Russia celebrated its first International Women’s Day two years later on the last Sunday of February – February 23, 1913.

The most consequential International Women’s Day protest took place in Russia on March 8, 1917 where thousands of Russian women took to the streets of the capital, Petrograd, now known as St Petersburg, to demand the end of food shortages and World War I.

It was this International Women’s Day protest that helped prompt the start of the Russian Revolution and led to the overthrowing of the czar.

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