MONROVIA-The women of Liberia on Friday, March 3, 2023 called on President George Manneh Weah to ensure the protection of all Liberians.

The Liberian women, through the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) presented a statement to members of the Liberian media after being allegedly denied to present the statement to President George Weah at the celebration of the International Women’s Day at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex in Congo Town.

The women appealed for their statement to be read at the celebration of the International Women’s Day, but they were allegedly denied by the Minister of Gender, Wilhelmina Piso-Saydee Tarr. 

However, addressing members of the media in presenting their statement, the President of the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL), Atty. Philomena Williams said, “We agreed that women voices must be heard and we agreed to do a solidarity visit. We visited the former Chief Justice and legislator. We agreed on International Women’s Day, we will present a statement to the office of the President because in as much we appreciate the President for appointing women, we decided to make use of this important day.”

“We met the Gender Minister at the home of Cllr.  Gloria Musu Scott’s because what happened to the Counselor can happen to any former official of the government. The Gender Minister agreed to allow us to speak at the International Women’s Day program to ensure that we present our statement. We presented the statement to Minister Piso-Tarr and we asked for the program because she had earlier assured us to speak at the program, but we saw Ophelia Hoff, it didn’t matter to us because she’s a woman. We presented the statement to Ophelia Hoff to read at the program since her name was on the program”.

According to the women: “She stated that she needed permission from the Gender Minister first and we said okay. To even get in the hall was a problem. Madam Hoff sent me a text that she presented the statement to Minister Tarr and she said she was not aware of the statement. She later said the Gender Minister wants to talk to me to make arrangement for the President to talk to us.”

There have been numerous cases of violence against women and children throughout Liberia with the alleged armed robbery at the home of former Chief Justice, Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott resulted into the death of Charloe Musu at the very latest.

In a statement, the women said “We reiterate, that to stop all forms of violence requires the affirmative action of the government. We need you Mr. President to make strong public condemnations of issues of insecurity and take action on violence against women and children. We wish to restate that your silence is worrisome.”

The women said the alleged silence of the Liberian Chief Executive to speak on issues affecting women in the country is ‘worrisome’

According to them, this is sending a message to the women of Liberia that they are of least concern to the Weah-Taylor administration, and an afterthought among key national priorities.

“We wish to unambiguously state that there should be no greater responsibility of your office than the safety and security of the Liberian people. Mr. President, what message have you sent us in recent times? You stated publicly that we have the responsibility to protect ourselves. By that utterance, horror and terror of violence have spread like wildfire across our nation and had become uncontrollable to contain,” the women said in a statement.

They further said “Your immediate action is needed from Liberians. We need protection. We the women of Liberia want to be clear with you. We cannot protect ourselves. We need Protection. We need Security. We need justice for little Charloe Musu. We need justice for all, justice for one, and justice for all. Together, let us stop all forms of violence.”

As the theme for the 2023 International Women’s Day calls for collective actions, the women of Liberia said “Now, consistent with the Theme, we the women of Liberia are taking collective action to end all forms of violence. Collectively, we are calling for justice and demanding immediate action for justice for little Charlie Musu and the many Liberian women who have been brutally murdered over the years. The women of Liberia say enough is enough.”

“On this important day, we are concerned about the high rate of sexual and gender-based violence in Liberia. We are gravely concerned of insecurity and the violent physical, psychological, and economical violence and abuse against women and children across the country. It is therefore important to note that when insecurity breeds and impunity is pervasive, women and girls are the most vulnerable,” they said.

The women of Liberia noted that peace, stability, and development will remain elusive in Liberia’s quest for development as long as half of its citizens live in fear of their lives and their future, be it murder, rape, life threats, trafficking, domestic violence, sexual harassment, discrimination as well as other forms of sexual and gender-based violence. 

“We, the women of Liberia would like to draw attention to the neglect by the State to address structural gaps in creating an enabling environment for women to exercise their full rights to participate across all sectors, free from violence, intimidation, harassment, exploitation, and abuse, consistent with our laws and international legal instrument. We, the women of Liberia believe that the President of Liberia, His Excellency, George Manneh Weah has the solemn responsibility to protect Liberians. Mr. President, the women’s expectation for protection and security is wanting of your office, especially as we approach this election period. There is escalating fear of increase violence as we approach the electoral period, and the panic of insecurity is of particular concern,” they added.

The women reminded the Liberian leader of Chapter V1, Article 53 (a), of the Constitution of Liberia which states “the President and the Vice President shall, before entering on the execution of the duties of their respective offices, take a solemn oath or affirmation to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the Republic and faithfully execute the duties of the office.”

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