The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development (EJS Center) says given the recent disheartening spike in gender-based violence in Liberia, it has decided that it cannot celebrate while “our mothers, sisters, and daughters continue to face the threat of violence.”
In a statement dated 8 March 2022, the EJS Center said it had planned to continue the tradition of celebrating International Women’s Day with an event entitled Women in the Grassroots: Liberia In Focus, a facilitated discussion with women leading non-governmental organizations in Liberia.
But the institution said it cannot celebrate the day this year due to the threat of violence that women continue to face here.
At present, the EJS Center notes, Liberia ranks 175th out of 189 countries in the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Gender Inequality Index, demonstrating the significant gap between Liberian women and men.
In response to this recent surge in gender-based violence, EJS Center Founder and Former President of Liberia, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf stated: “We cannot be celebratory when our Liberian sisters are still facing the threat of violence.”
“Instead, let us break the bias in our homes, schools, universities, communities, courtrooms, and institutions that perpetuates violence against women and girls, and stands in the way of its eradication.”
On 8 March this year, the EJS Center said it was celebrating its second anniversary, which also falls on the International Women’s Day observed globally under the theme #BreaktheBias.
The EJS Center recalled that to celebrate International Women’s Day last year, it held a panel discussion entitled Amujae Leaders: Liberia In Focus, which focused on women’s political leadership in Liberia.
It noted that this year, there are many achievements to celebrate at the EJS Center, including two of its cohorts of Amujae Leaders, the successful #HaveHerBack Campaign, and the release of its report on Mapping Progress in Liberia: The 2020 Ibrahim Index of African Governance.
The EJS Center acknowledges that some important steps have been taken over recent years to address gender-based violence in Liberia.
For example, it said, the Domestic Violence Act was signed into law in 2019 after being tabled in 2016.
The Act provides a comprehensive definition of domestic violence, which acknowledges the many forms it can take. But it suggested that more must be done to eradicate violence against women and girls in Liberian society.
Further, the EJS Center said progress is needed through multiple channels including policymaking, legislation, grassroots engagement, advocacy, and community-led initiatives.
“Women public leaders and civil society activists should continue to steer these efforts, building on their years of work on this pressing issue. However, sustainable progress requires the commitment and support from male allies—at the community level and at the highest levels of government,” the release said.
The EJS Center’s Executive Director, Dr. Ophelia I. Weeks, noted: “On this 2022 International Women’s Day, the EJS Center recognizes that this issue is critical and cannot be dismissed. We must work harder to combat gender-based violence, hold those responsible accountable, and create a safer society for women and girls.”
It urges the public to join the EJS Center in raising awareness of this critical issue by posting graphics contained in its press release on social media accounts with the following message:
“This International Women’s Day, we must #BreaktheBias against speaking out about gender-based violence. It’s time to end all forms of violence against women and girls. [Insert link to statement once posted] #IWD #InternationalWomensDay2022”
The EJS Center was founded in 2018 to be a catalyst for change across Africa by helping unleash its most abundant untapped power—its women. It officially launched on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2020.
Through a unique blend of programming, advocacy, research, and exhibitions, the Center advances women’s public leadership and social development on the continent.
As the first democratically elected woman president in Africa, Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is passionate about supporting the next generation of women in public leadership.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/amujae-leaders-ejs-center-increases-womens-productivities/