Liberia Benefits US$500 Million EU, UN Spotlight Initiative

-To Eliminate SGBVs, Other Harmful Traditional Practices

By R. Joyclyn Wea

The European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) have launched a global, multi-year initiative in Liberia focused on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG) – the spotlight initiative.

The initiative is so named as it is believed to bring to focus attention to SGBV issues, moving it into the spotlight and placing it at the center of efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, in line with the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

The European Union funded spotlight initiative is being launch across twenty-two countries in Asia, Africa, Latin, America, the Pacific and the Caribbean. Liberia is one of the eight countries to benefit from the spotlight initiative in Africa.

The Liberia spotlight initiative which seeks to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls, is a four-year program that will be implemented in five counties to include: Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Lofa, Montserrado and Nimba Counties, with the highest prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence cases in Liberia and will as well benefit 613,578 directly and 1,987,701indirectly, men and women, boys and girls in the five Counties.

The spotlight initiative is a 500 million global joint initiative of the European Union and the United Nations. Liberia is one of the eight countries in Africa to benefit from the initiative.

A total of US$17.7 million will fund the first phase of the four-year period of the Liberia spotlight initiative. Funding for the second phase will subsequently be based upon results achieved, as outline in the program document.

The initiative will further focus on reducing the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices and increasing women’s access to sexual and reproductive health services.

Gender-based violence against women and girls is extremely high in Liberia according to the ministry of gender children social protection (MoGCSP), 2,105 cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) were reported in 2018, four hundred and twenty more cases than in 2017, which recorded 1,685 cases.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative in Tenii, Grand Cape Mount County, Juan Antonio Frutos Goldaratz, Charge’ d’Affaires, European Union delegation to Liberia bewailed “Many women and girls still suffer gender based violence, one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations of our time. Gender based violence must be fought and eliminated.”

The EU Representative noted that women are key driver of sustainable development and peace and that a society where women can fully enjoy rights and opportunities on an equal footing with men is not only more just.

“Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go to achieve full equality of rights and opportunities for women and girls. It is essential to ensure that women and girls have access to quality education and health, family planning, economic resources, employment, participation in political life, and positions of leadership and decision-making at all levels,” . Juan Antonio Frutos.

The Liberian spotlight initiative will implement targeted intervention in the five counties to tackle the root causes of violence against women and girls, provide quality services for survivors and reparations for victims of violence.

To ensure success, an inclusive and multi stakeholder process will be implored to built consensus and national ownership. The government of Liberia, UN, EU, and partners will work with a cross section of stakeholders including communities, students, teachers, parents, traditional and religious leaders and other institutions such as the Liberia National Police, the Judiciary and the Legislature to prevent or respond to SGBV cases.

The Liberia spotlight initiative builds on existing programs to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. It will also expand some of these interventions, reaching an estimated 2.6 million women, girls, men, and boys directly or indirectly.

It will further contribute to the achievement of the pro-poor agenda for prosperity and development (PAPD 2018 to 2023) which aims to reduce violence against women and girls and provide power to the people, especially women and girls, and built a stable, resilient, and inclusive nation,” Gender minister Williametta Saydee-Tarr.

According to Minister Tarr the presence of the Liberian vice president is prove of government commitment and political will to eliminate violence and all forms of sexual abuse against women and girls in the Country.

She thanked the EU and UN for chosen Liberia as one of the countries in the ECOWAS region to benefit from such gesture.

Also remarking at the event, ECOWAS Representative says the goal is to share best practices and experiences so as to have mechanism of comparing and conduct research in the region on issues that have over the years held women and girls from exploring their dreams.

He stressed the need for government to properly implement the project as it would serve as reference for other ECOWAS nations who are not part of the initiative to benefit in the next years.

“We look forward to having a downward train of the situation in Liberia. The people of Robertsport should take special interest in the initiative as one of the counties where this project would be implemented,” the ECOWAS Representative added.

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