MONROVIA, Liberia - As part of its continued efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls in Liberia, the Spotlight Initiative is supporting the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Council of Chiefs and Elders to launch a campaign for monitoring the implementation of the Ganta Declaration. Ten motorbikes have been provided to help leaders reach communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and monitor the implementation of the Ganta Declaration, which calls for a one-year suspension of all Sande society activities, including female genital mutilation (FGM). Leaders will also raise awareness among communities on measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus and respond to sexual and gender-based violence.

The Ganta Declaration was signed on 25 June 2019 and calls for a one-year suspension of Sande society and bush school activities, where young women and girls are initiated into adulthood through a series of activities including Female Genital Mutilation.

“We hope the closure of the bush schools will pave the way for the elimination of all harmful practices against women and girls in Liberia,” says UN Women Country Representative for Liberia, Marie Goreth Nizigama. “As the custodians of culture and traditional practices, traditional leaders play an important role in ending all forms of violence against women and girls. We commend the European Union and the Government of Liberia for providing the platform to eliminate harmful practices.”

To enable traditional leaders to reach grassroots communities, UN Women within the framework of the Spotlight Initiative, is donating 10 motorbikes to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Council of Chiefs and Elders to facilitate the monitoring of the closure of the bush schools and alternative livelihood support, which provides vocational training to practitioners of FGM so that they can find an alternative source of income.

“We commend the Spotlight Initiative for the provision of motorbikes to enable the Ministry to enforce its mandate to close bush schools and to help eliminate violence against women and girls in the communities,” says Minister of Internal Affairs, Honourable Varney Sirleaf. 

Additionally, in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic affecting Liberia, the traditional leaders will raise awareness on the virus and its implications on sexual and gender-based violence in eight counties, including Grand Gedeh, Nimba, Lofa, Montserrado, Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Bong and Margibi Counties. 

COVID-19 measures are putting a lot of people under strain and increasing the risk of violence against women and girls.

The Spotlight Initiative urges the Government of Liberia and civil society actors to provide a comprehensive response with interventions to prevent violence against women and girls, says Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation in Liberia, Theodorus Kaspers.

In Liberia, the Spotlight Initiative seeks to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, including Female Genital Mutilation.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Mostafa Omar, Spotlight Initiative Communications Specialist
E-mail: mosomar@unicef.org
Tel: 00 231 770267110

Gloriah Ganyani, UN Women Communications Specialist
E-mail: gloria.ganyani@unwomen.org
Tel: 00 231 776886201

Lead image: UN Women Liberia Country Representative, Marie Goreth Nizigama, hands over keys to the Minister of Internal Affairs following a donation of ten motorbikes. Photo: UN Women Liberia