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Liberia lays foundations for gender equality, equity

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The Permanent Representative of Liberia to the United Nations says thecrucial and continuously important roles women have played insustaining peace and security in Liberia has laid enduring foundationsfor gender equality and equity as enshrined in the country’sconstitution.

Highlighting institutional and policy frameworks aimed at engenderingwomen’s empowerment and equality, as well as access to justice,Ambassador Lewis Garseedah Brown, II, named the implementation of theNational Action Plan (NAP) for Security Council Resolution 1325(2009-2013) that has significantly contributed to women’s participation in the national security sector and decision makingprocesses at the national and local levels in Liberia.

According to a dispatch from New York, Ambassador Brown made theassertion when he participated in a panel discussion at the UnitedNations Headquarters earlier this week. He was joined by Senior Expert of the Finnish Ministry of ForeignAffairs and Chair of the Executive Board of Justice Rapid Response,H.E. Ambassador MarjaLehto and the Under-Secretary and Director,United Nations, Other International Organizations and InternationalLaw Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal, Mr. Sudhir Bhattarai.

As the 6th Committee of the 71st General Assembly continues at the UNHeadquarters, the Permanent Missions of Finland, Liberia and Nepal tothe United Nations, U.N. Women and the Rule of Law Unit on behalf ofthe UN Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group co-sponsored apanel discussion under the theme: “Women’s Access to Justice: ATransformational Approach.”

Ambassador Brown indicated that an evaluation of the 1325 NationalAction Plan has been conducted, gaps in its implementation identifiedand the Ministry of Gender and partners are reviewing recommendationsthat came from the evaluation process.

“The decision to adopt a new National Action Plan will be made afterthe recommendations have been reviewed carefully,” he said, addingthat the National Gender Policy is a progressive policy frameworkwhich aims to eliminate the marginalization of women and girls inLiberia by 2020.

The Liberian Permanent Representative to the United Nations alsoinformed the gathering that the country’s Ministry of Justice alsoplays a key role in scaling access to justice for women with regardsto sexual and gender based violence and plays a pivotal role inreporting government’s progress in implementing human rights instruments. “The ministry leads the response of sexual and genderbased violence (SGBV) which includes the institutional strengtheningof the justice system – including police, courts and the entire formal justice system,” he said.

Likewise, in March 2015, a cross-section of women participants, toinclude the Legislative Caucus, NGO Secretariat, media, cross-regionalpeace networks, representatives of women groups from the 15 counties, as well as the leadership of the Rural Women Structure, all of whomparticipated in the Constitutional Review Conference, adopted theConvention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Ambassador Brown assured the gathering that in the wake of the UNMission in Liberia (UNMIL) drawdown, the country continues constructinfrastructure at the county level to enhance women access to justice,which is intended to bring justice and security providers closer tothe community thereby giving women access to fair and accountable professional services. “Between November 2015 to May 2016,” he said,“citizens, especially women were able to forward their complaints forredress through public service outreach officers.

The closeness of magistrates, judges and police enables women toaccess to criminal justice system with more ease.” Despite the achievements Ambassador Brown noted, there were stillcritical needs and efforts to address the gaps and challenges.

He named resource mobilization and capacity building as two mainthings that will enable government do more in its delivery of justiceto women and the entire population. The event which featured Ambassador Brown and others provided anopportunity for Member States to share good practices, challenges andlessons learned on enhancing women’s access to justice, including infragile and post-conflict settings.

It also provided an opportunity to learn more about the normative workand recommendations of the CEDAW Committee on women’s access tojustice, and State parties’ commitments and obligations in theseareas. 

The occasion followed up on a high-level meeting on women’saccess to justice held in 2012, providing an opportunity for MemberStates to report on the implementation of the voluntary pledges toenhance women’s access to justice made on that occasion.

The event also offered a space for dialogue between the legal and ruleof law advisers, development and human rights experts on an issuewhich is of fundamental importance to the rule of law, to thepromotion and protection of human rights, and to strengtheninginstitutions and good governance.

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