MONROVIA-The Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Asa Regner, has concluded her first official mission to Liberia where she held several strategic engagement meetings with a number of high-level officials and women’s groups. She also interacted with women who are beneficiaries of UN Women interventions in Liberia.
Ms. Regner was accompanied by the UN Women Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Ms. Oulimata Sarr.
Some of the high-level officials that Ms. Regner met include, Vice President of Liberia, Chief Dr. Jewel Howard Taylor; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah; Deputy Minister of Justice, Hon. Nyanti Tuan, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Hon. Williametta Saydee Tarr; and Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon. Varney Sirleaf. Ms. Regner also had a chance to meet the UN Country Team and other development partners.
During her engagement meetings, Ms. Regner emphasized UN Women’s commitment to promote gender equality and women empowerment in Liberia.
She noted that Liberia has made important strides to advance the rights of women and girls over the past two decades through legislation reforms and targeted programmes to eradicate discriminatory barriers and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, despite challenges.
During her mission, Ms. Regner had an opportunity to visit the vocational and heritage centre in Todee in Montserrado County constructed by UN Women under the European Union, and Government of Liberia Spotlight Initiative. UN Women is establishing four vocational and heritage centres in four Counties to provide alternative economic livelihood programs to traditional practitioners in an effort to eliminate FGM in Liberia. The centres will serve as dedicated learning centres for traditional practitioners and young women and girls to learn new skills to enable them to get an alternative source of income to replace female genital mutilation.
Ms. Regner also interacted with traditional practitioners who formerly practiced female genital mutilation but are now beneficiaries of the alternative economic livelihood program. At least 300 traditional practitioners have benefitted from the alternative economic livelihood programme, which was launched in December 2019 under the Spotlight Initiative.
Although milestones have been achieved, there has been little progress in women’s political participation, leadership, and representation in national and local governance. The percentage of women in the legislature has fallen from over 16 percent in 2006 to less than 11 percent currently.
Ms. Regner called upon the country leadership and all stakeholders to foster a common agenda to promote women political participation and take advantage of the 30 percent gender quota for political party candidates, as Liberia is preparing for the 2023 elections.
The UN Women Deputy Executive Director was also delighted to meet various women’s groups and young women leaders, among others to discuss opportunities for enhancing women’s participation in politics and leadership. Ms. Regner also applauded the contributions made to peace building, justice, and conflict resolution by members of the Fish market women’s peace hut who shared their experience of how they are contributing.