Angie Brooks Center dialogues on drugs, women’s security
By Kruah Thompson
The Angie Brooks International Center (ABIC) for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security in partnership with ZOA-Liberia with funding from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund has held a Two-day mediation dialogue on safety and security of women before, during and after election.
The dialogue was under the flagship program of the Women Situation Room (WSR) with the project titled; Sustainable and Inclusive Peace in Liberia through Promoting Women Leadership and Participation in Civic and Political Life and their Strengthened Role in Conflict Resolution.
Twenty (20) communities including PHP community, Kingray community, Todee, West Point, Gardnersville, Clara Town and Bentol, among others were represented by 200 women and youth leaderships that embody 4000 population of their irrespective communities in Montserrado and Bong counties, respectively.
On Friday, July 29th, 2022 these communities met in Gbarnga, Bong county to dialogue and strategize a way forward through substantive exchanges on sensitive issues about drug and electoral violence among women, chiefs, and youth leaders ahead of the 2023 general and presidential elections.
Observing the current growth of substance abuse and midterm electoral violence already occurring ahead of the 2023 general elections, ABIC worries that without timely intervention, there could be more violence if issues are not treated with urgency.
The Center thinks there is a need to engage women and community leadership to dialogue and strategize a way forward in preventing the increase as the country gradually moves to elections.
Day one of the dialogue on Friday, participants discussed how drugs are coming into their communities, consumption level, and the risk it imposes on community residents.
They recommended a need for awareness that will educate non-users and users of substances on the danger it poses to their health thus, discouraging the use of illicit drugs in communities.
The women urged parents to observe the behavior of their children at home, and report dealers within their communities to relevant authorities for prosecution.
They called for the establishment of rehab and TVET training centers that will enhance and give skill training and empowerment opportunity to at-risk youth to deter them from the use of illicit drugs.
On political violence in communities and the danger it places on the security of Liberia, the women also called for more stakeholders’ dialogue and training for electoral staff and how to coordinate and resolve conflict at the various polling stations where they will be assigned to avoid election violence.
Participants stressed a need to cash violence in elections, including trucking of voters, as well as violence from political candidates themselves.
Since the constitutional referendum of May 7, 1946, and it’s coming into force on December 10, 1946, which was preceded by a change in the Constitution of Liberia by the national legislature granting women voting rights, women have impacted the development and maintenance of Liberia’s peace positively both locally and internationally, which has given the country an outstanding proud globally.
The coordinator of the Angie Brooks International Center and founder of the women’s situation room, Cllr. Dr. Yvette Cheeson Wureh, in a motivational tune, urged the women and youths at the dialogue not to only use the training for themselves but to impact their children and communities positively, saying, “When you become enlightened, strengthen your brothers and sisters.”