Monrovia-Feb-9-TNRThe United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCHR’s) Resident Coordinator, ad Interim, Mr.Antony Akumu Abogi has lauded traditional  leaders  for their  efforts  made so far in supporting the ban on Female Genital Mutilation  (FGM), but has at the same time requested for more action to ensure that the ban is fully enforced, including  through  legislation.

The UN Envoy made the remarks during the official closing ceremony of the Lofa County groove (Sande Society Bush) on February 6, 2024 in Vezela, Lofa County.

Mr. Abogi said, the closure of Lofa County Sande Society Bush coincides with the world commemorating the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. 

He noted that the day is a time to reflect on the need to endFemale Genital Mutilation, a harmful traditional practice that violates the rights of women and girls. It is also a day where we celebrate the achievements we completed so far in the process for abolishing FGM and how we consolidate each and everyone’s efforts to continue safeguarding women and girls’ rights, including the right to live a life free from FGM,” Mr. Abogi added.

The theme for the 2024 commemoration of International women day is, “Her Voice, Her Future: Investing in Survivor-Led Movements to End Female Genital Mutilation.” The theme calls for increasing survivors’ space for voicing out against the practice to protect girls at risk of being subjected to FGM.

He added that globally, more than 200 million girls and women have undergone FGM. He added that in Liberia, statistics from the Health and Demographic Survey (DHS) shows that 38.2% of women and girls aged between 15 and 49 years have undergone FGM.

The UN Resident Coordinator Commended Chief ZanzanKarwor for the historic step taken in declaring a full ban on FGM in February 2023, for efforts made since then that ensured that the FGM ban is implemented in four counties. Today Lofa is becoming the fifth county to take a bold step in implementing a full ban on FGM.

Congratulate the traditional leaders of Lofa for opting to adopt the concept of “initiation without mutilation,” in replacement of the FGM harmful social norm.” Alternative rites of passage need to be the ones that honor the dignity, autonomy, physical and mental health young girls.

Mr. Abogi reminded all participants that the UN System and partners respect traditional and cultural values of Liberia; however, practices that negatively affect the health and life of women and girls need to be abolished and the rights of women and girls need to be protected.

He called on development partners to invest in survivor-ledmovements as per the theme of this year, resources and investments to support the work of survivors and activists to end FGM need to be considered to complement the work started by traditional leaders to mobilize communities to move away from the FGM harmful practice.

The Head of UN Human Rights lauded CSOs for keep up the good work in working with communities and support traditional leaders in monitoring the implementation of the FGM ban, reporting on violation and engaging with communities in preventive actions aimed at the protection of women and girls against FGM.

He also Recognized the EU and the Government of Sweden for the generous support to the work aimed at creating a positive shift in social norms, availing the heritage center to empower former practitioners and supporting the efforts of the National Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia (with technical support from Crusaders for Peace) to ban FGM and enforce the ban in different counties.

He called on the local communities to continue working together and in collaboration with all partners to ensure that the future of women and girls is brighter and free from FGM.  

For his part, the Chairman of the National Chief and Elders of Liberia, Zanzan Karwor thanked the citizens of Lofa County for their willingness to close down bush school. Chief Karwor used the occasion to call on Chiefs and Zoes to be peaceful in the discharge of their duties in their respective counties.

The Chief Zoe turned politician, highlighted that election has come and gone and his mission now is to preach the message of peace.The head of the transitional council of Liberia who said the worst about the current President that he was unfit to be President of Liberia now praising him that he’s no longer old car parked in the garage but instead a new car with new engine.

He threatened to penalize any Chief and elder traditionally who will go against the appointed Ministry of Internal Affairs Minister Francis S. Nyumali and called on all Zoes and Chief to work with President Joseph Nyuma Boakai.

For his part, Mr. Anders Arvidsson who is the Deputy head of EUD Mission; of European Union expressed thanks and appreciation to the Crusaders for Peace and local partners for the bold step taken so far.
EU is the lead sponsor behind the spotlight initiative in several counties in order to eliminate Sexual Gender Base violence. Mr. Arvidsson indicated that FGM has been a wide spread issue affecting several women and girls in Liberia and the world at large.
He added that women and girls have rights to their own body and have the right to say no to the harmful traditional practices.The EU deputy head of mission pledged his mission’s commitment to supporting or funding the alternative livelihood program for women and girls in order to see a better future for them. 

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