We, Concerned Civil Society of Organizations Liberia interested in the Safety, Education and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights of Women: Taking note of measures announced by the government of Liberia to curtail the spread of the Corona Virus pandemic.
Recognizing that school has long been a haven for girls and that lock down measures leading to the closure of schools presents an overwhelmingly worse situation for girls of school going age Realizing that there is still more needs to be done in terms of quality and access to adequate education and COVID-19 deteriorates a situation that is already deplorable and leads to more girls getting pregnant and denied access to schools while being blamed and shamed in their various community and schools.
Understanding that after this period of pandemic, projected statistics will likely show an increase in number of school dropouts by adolescent girls due to forced marriages, teenage pregnancies, and economic difficulties.
Comprehending that popular beliefs has long persisted promoting the exclusion and expulsion of pregnant girls from schools because they served as negative influences on their peers which political language perpetuated stigma and prejudice against pregnant girls who were portrayed as less deserving to an equal right to education.
Determined that education is a right and not something for school authorities to arbitrarily take away as a punishment and the exclusion of pregnant girls from mainstream schools and banning them from sitting crucial exams is discriminatory and will have devastating consequences Ensuring that pregnancy does not become the event that determines the rest of vulnerable girls’ lives and it is equally important that girls enjoy equal access to education as boys despite their condition.
Appreciating the fact that the government of Liberia has in the past taken concrete actions to ensure that pregnant girls remain in school despite social pressures by the school and the community to keep pregnant teenage girls out of schools.
Recalling that the government of Liberia is a member of the Economic Community of West African States and have signed several human rights protocols affirming the Sexual Right of girls amongst which are the Maputo Protocol, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights,
Demanding that the Government of Liberia take urgent and decisive actions to correct past perception leading to unclear language that further shames and stigmatizes pregnant girls.
We hereby call on the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Education to institute the following actions:
- A complete rollout of the Comprehensive Sexual Education Manual in ALL public and private schools making menstrual hygiene products available in schools.
- Ensure that the National Girls Educational Policy is included in all teacher training colleges and certificate level programs
- Conduct a massive campaign on SRHR education to engage in policy dialogue with school authority and actively advocate for the integration of SRHR information and services including a wide range of voluntary family planning commodities within schools
- Send a circular to all schools to ensure pregnancy does not serve as a barrier to enrollment.
- Ensure that schools adopt an inclusive approach to attendance taking as well as considering the particular needs of girls i.e no girl must be forced to choose a parallel system for attendance however, if that will suit her particular circumstances and she is willing or suggests it, she must be accommodated.
- Ensure no school has discriminatory laws that ban girls from taking leadership roles within academic institutions because she a girl.
- Support girls’ retention in schools by providing ‘stimulus such as schools feeding program and/or economic livelihood training to encourage parents to resend their girls back to school and compensate for the long hours’ girls stay in schools to avoid excessive hunger.
- Ensure guidelines are developed to support and train teachers to recognize and prevent violence against girls and the risk of child marriage and should continue safe referral practices and protection services at the all levels.
- Ensure that response measures are based on strong gender analysis and consider harmful gender-based social and cultural norms which influence girls’ and boys’ vulnerability to infection, exposure, and treatment thus including gender-sensitive approaches in the education response to COVID-19. This includes ensuring that girls and women are at the center of the response and creating systems that monitor girls’ enrollment to schools.
- Enhance girls and women involvement in the response. Consult girls and young women during the full cycle of the response, from needs assessments, design of education and other interventions, to monitoring the effectiveness of the response. This includes any unintended impacts on girls and young women due to school closures. Girls should be involved in decisions about their education.
- While schools are closed, governments should support teachers, school staff and communities to ensure inclusive methods of distance learning is adopted. Community sensitization on girls’ education should continue to protect education advances for girls and support teachers.
- Re-enforced all laws by putting in strict measures in schools (both private and public) to protect girls from sexual abuse while in school.
- Ensure awareness and popularization of the Domestic Violence Act including and ensuring that schools’ understand their responsibilities under the Act.
Done this 6th day of July 2020 by the undersigned organizations:
- Network of Peace and Security Women in ECOWAS Countries (NOPSWECO)
- Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL)
- Organization for Women and Children (ORWOCH)
- Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI)
- Kids Educational Engagement Project (KEEP)
- Paramount Young Women Initiative (PAYOWI)
- Liberia Girls Guide Association
- Women and Children Initiatives (WCI)
- Formidable Initiatives for Women and Girls (FIWG)
- Actions for Community Transformation (ACT)
- Girls for Change
- Rural Education Sponsorship Program; Enhancing Communities Together (RESPECT)
- Sister Hand Liberia
- Women and Children Development Association of Liberia
- Community Sustainable Development Organization (COSDO)
- Women Human Rights Defenders Network – INCHR
- Women Entrepreneurship and Environmental Links
- Helping Our People Excel, Inc (HOPE)
- Community Health Education and Social Services(CHESS, Inc)
- Young Women Christian Association (YWCA)
- Rising Youth Mentorship Initiative
- West Point Women for Health and Development Organization (WPWHDO)
On Wed, Jul 8, 2020, 19:36 Othello Garblah email@example.com wrote:
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