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Liberia Feminist Forum to convene this week

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Hold several outreach activities – including its annual Meet & Greet

The Liberia Feminist Forum (LFF) will this week host its 2021 convening on the theme: Intergenerational Dialogue on Feminist Movement Building: Trauma, Resistance, and Resilience for Feminist Movement in Liberia.

The Convening will bring together members of the Forum to hold deliberations on the Forum’s work as well as its roles and contributions to the national social, economic, and development of Liberia, especially the advancement and realization of women’s rights and quality. 

LFF is a Feminism advocacy group that speaks against human rights violations perpetrated against women and girls and minority groups with the quest for equality for everyone.

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LFF Meet and Greet session

The LFF as part of its pre-convening activities held a ‘Meet and greet’ and open evening with young female college students, members of Civil Society Organizations, development partners, and young women leaders from diverse backgrounds. 

The purpose of these activities is to acquaint the different participants with the workings of the LFF that will help broaden their understanding of the Forum, its values, and its principles.

At the Meet and Greet, and Open Evening Events, held separately, the LFF provided information on the work the Forum does, feminist movement building, intergenerational perspectives, and resistance.

The gatherings also created an opportunity for young women to share experiences of their journeys and how they could become more effective and deliberate about challenging injustice and power dynamics that marginalize or silence women and girls.

According to Caroline Bowah, the gathering brings together people who are interested in learning, understanding, and demystifying whatever thoughts and myths about feminism and allows for strategic engagements with stakeholders in different development sectors working on gender equality and women’s rights.

“We host these events so we can engage with the public and address concerns and questions they have about the work we do as the Liberian Feminist Forum,” she said.

Madam Bowah added that the Meet and Greet with young Liberian women convening as well as the Open Evening Event with development partners, Civil Society Organizations, and other Allies in Liberia are pre convening activities that allow for agenda-setting for it the LFF 2021.

We will also go into an internal convening which is for the Liberia Feminist Forum members,” she said.

Narrating the historic view of the LFF at the Meet & Greet, Ms. Aisha Kamara Kolubah said the Liberian Feminist Forum (LFF) was established in 2014, during the Ebola Crisis, starting with 25 Liberian feminists with support for the forum – African Women Development Fund (AWDF), Kvinna til Kvinna (KtK) and African feminists (Zimbabwe, Uganda, and South Africa).

“Sisters from Liberia attended the African Feminist Forum in Ghana when they came back African countries were given the mandate to have a country forum”. The two Liberian co-creators are Caroline Bowah and Korto Reeves.

She recalled that setting up the movement was a struggle because many people do not feel comfortable associating with feminism in Liberia.

Currently, the LFF has 42 women who are members and has horizontal leadership, meaning there is no head in the Forum.

“We have a horizontal structure of leadership. We don’t have a head but we have a technical working group, people with different skills that run the day-to-day activities,” she stated.

The fundamental purpose of the forum was to address the lack of critical feminist positioning/analysis on human rights issues. The LFF was organized to create a safe space for Liberian women promoting a grounded feminism perspective.

Presenting on ‘Intergenerational Dialogue: Building Feminist Movement in Liberia, Ms. Naomi Tulay Solanke called on the young girls to embrace inclusion and diversity to excel and create their space in society. She emphasized the importance of collectiveness and solidarity in movement building.

“We need to get rid the – I didn’t do it and so I am not going to be part of it”.

According to her, intergenerational conversations and sharing through collective actions and partnership are crucial to addressing the needs of young people, people living with disabilities, older people, and people with different sexual preferences.

Additionally, she said the Liberian Feminist Forum is concerned about the wellbeing of young women and girls. “We are concerned about the way we mentor young people making sure that they are guarded, young people are protected and young people’s contributions and voices are amplified.

Also, speaking on the resistance to Feminist Movement’, Elizabeth G. Johnson said lack of understanding of feminism is the main challenge to the movement. She encourages the participants to be more robust to effectively advocate for a just and equal society using their agency and voice.

“Feminist movement is not a bread and butter. It is a political stand that you are taking, challenging unequal power relations that continue to marginalize women” she said.

According to Madam Johnson, religious beliefs, and traditional and cultural practices also serves as resistance to feminist movement building. “Even in your family, they will call you names. You will be the outside child,” she added. But importantly, it is prudent to always counter this resistance from an informed positioning because Feminism is about equality for everyone.

Also speaking was Korto Williams, co-founder of the LFF, she further noted that the establishment of the forum has helped to provide conceptual clarity on feminism and linkages to women participation in national development processes and reawaken the enthusiasm among Liberian women to the movement.

Adding that the overall goal of the LFF seeks to advocate for the transformation of all social relations of power that exploit, oppress, and marginalize any set of people. The fundamental purpose of the forum was to address the lack of critical feminist positioning/analysis on human rights issues. The LFF was organized to create a safe space for Liberian women promoting a grounded feminism perspective.

The LFF challenges patriarchal norms in the Liberian society which threaten the rights of women and LGBTI people.

 Facia Harris also a founding member of the Liberia Feminist Forum stated that the LFF has contributed immensely to elevating the conversation of gender equality and women rights to the national agenda, adding that before 2014 – Feminism was not worded boldly or comfortably mentioned in the country, it has taken lots of efforts to deepen the ongoing conversation even though Liberian women have been contributing to development work and fight for women rights in Liberia.

The establishment of the forum has helped to provide conceptual clarity on feminism and linkages to women’s participation in national development processes and reawaken the enthusiasm among Liberian women to the movement.

The overall goal of the LFF seeks to advocate for the transformation of all social relations of power that exploit, oppress, and marginalize any set of people.

Also, as part of its reconvening activities, the LFF will launch a series featuring the 100 women’s stories documenting their and remarkable impact they are making at different levels of Liberian society.

These are women from diverse social, cultural, and economic backgrounds. They lead impactful lives within their communities at the local or national levels.

The stories capture their traditional and non-traditional leadership journeys of inspiring change and breaking through barriers unapologetically. 

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