Liberian Foreign Minister H.E. Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., has said women empowerment in Liberia is reflected at the highest level, disclosing that women constitute 65% of Assistant and Deputy Ministerial posts in government, including two female Associate Justices on the beach of the Supreme Court.
Speaking recently at the One United Nations House, Kofi Annan Conference Room in Monrovia, Minister Kemayah informed participants at the Liberia Configuration of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission that women empowerment in Liberia is reflected at every level of society.
Minister Kemayah intimated that he can cite Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia and Africa’s First Female President, and the current First Female Vice-President, Her Excellency Madam Jewel Howard-Taylor, as unique examples of how women have served at every level.
He applauded His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia and Liberia’s Feminist-In-Chief, who continues to relentlessly support the empowerment, growth and development of girls and women in Liberia.
The Liberian Foreign Minister made these remarks at the virtual ambassadorial-level meeting of Liberia Configuration of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, along with international partners with focus on promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality in Liberia.
He said the focus of the meeting is purposeful, and remains germane to the peacebuilding agenda.
Minister Kemayah indicated that the government of Liberia deeply welcomes this meeting, especially that “it obliges us to reflect on the gender strategy adopted by the Peacebuilding Commission in September 2016, aimed at ensuring a more structural and systematic integration of gender perspectives across its work."
Speaking further, Minister Kemayah stated that the Peacebuilding Fund’s investment in this essential domain serves as a thrust to the process of achieving national healing, reconciliation and the peacebuilding priorities.
He noted that with such support, Liberia has been able to realize, among others, the establishment of gender desks in all security-related institutions, and a growing number of female personnel in the Liberia National Police and the Armed Forces of Liberia, some of whom are serving on United Nations peacekeeping missions in Mali and South Sudan.
“His Excellency President Weah, in furtherance of his commitment to advancing gender equality and protection of women, championed and supported to the fullest, the passage of the Domestic Violence Act, the Local Governance Act and the Land Rights Act, all of which are gender sensitive," Minister Kemayah explained.
"And in his response to issues regarding rape, His Excellency President Weah adopted a vigorous approach to deal with the issue. He declared rape a national emergency; appointed a Special Prosecutor for Rape; set up a National Sex Offender Registry; established a National Security Taskforce on SGBV, and allotted an initial amount of United States Two Million Dollars to help combat rape and other forms of SGBV across the country," Minister Kemayah added.
He said under the directive of His Excellency President Weah, the Liberian Government, with support from partners developed an Anti-SGBV Roadmap 2020-2022.
"It is our understanding that this roadmap will need funding for appropriate implementation," the Foreign Minister said.
According to him, in spite of the hurdles the nation faces in attaining its goals regarding the role of women in conflict prevention and resolution, the women of Liberia have long gained recognition.
He recalled that in 2003, Liberian women acted in a heroic manner and form to end the civil upheaval in Liberia when they embarked on a sustained mass campaign for peace and democracy, including in Ghana, which lasted until 2005 in Liberia.
"They forced warring parties and other stakeholders to negotiate and broker a peace deal referred to as the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement,” Minister Kemayah reflected.
For her part, the Executive Director of the Liberia Crusaders for Peace, Ambassador Julie Endee, who outlined the role played by Civil Society Organizations (CSO), said CSO is complementing national peacebuilding and women’s empowerment intervention efforts.
She said this is being done through a platform of four civil society organizations, meaningfully contributing to the democratization process of Liberia through elections monitoring, and electoral reform issues including support for affirmative actions to address the issue of women’s underrepresentation in Liberia.
She disclosed that this initiative is being financed by the Carter Center and the Swedish government.
The Liberia Crusaders for Peace boss further indicated that the UNICEF-EU Spotlight Initiative – aimed to address barriers to women and girls realizing their rights and to ensure that they live a life freed of violence and all forms of Harmful Practices (HPs).
According to her, this effort is also being financed by the European Union through UNICEF.
For his part, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Liberia, Mr. Niels Scott commended Liberia’s effort in strengthening women empowerment and gender equality, including women's meaningful participation in elections, noting that he is also excited to see women represented at the ECOWAS regional level.
Mr. Scott said on the issue of women under representation, they will support the process of strengthening the laws of Liberia through the Legislature to enact the 30% gender equitable bill at the National Legislature.
In separate remarks, several ambassadors commended the government of Liberia for the progress being made on several fronts, including gender equality and the empowerment of women and ensuring that women have a voice on national issues.
The meeting was attended by several dignitaries to include Hon. Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection; Madam Marie Goreth Nizigama, UN Women Liberia Country Director; and German Ambassador Hubert Jäger, among others.
H.E. Ms. Anna Karin Eneström, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations and Chair of the Liberia Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), presided over the meeting.