The Speaker of the Liberian Children Representative Forum Miss Satta Sheriff has warned here that the girls of Liberia will not progress even if millions of dollars are spent in educating them, if they are not protected from early and forced marriages, rape and other forms of sexual abuse.
She noted that in several countries around the world, including Liberia girls are being sexually abused and marginalized on a daily basis. Serving as guest speaker at program marking World Population Day on Monday, July 11, in the Auditorium of the University of Liberia on Capitol Hill, Miss Sheriff, a 12th Grader of the St. Peter’s Lutheran High School in Monrovia stressed that the issues of early and forced marriage need to be addressed urgently to enable teenage girls achieve their full potentials.
The 2016 World Population Day was celebrated by the Government of Liberia in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund or UNFPA on the theme, “Investing in Teenage Girls”. The Governing Council of the United Development Program at the 36th Session in 1989 recommended that July 11 each year be observed globally as World Population Day to focus public attention on the urgency and importance of population issues, particularly in the context of development plans and programs and the need to find solutions to pressing population problems throughout the world.
She noted that as the world’s population hit 7.4 billion Monday, 62 million girls globally are not in school, while hunger and neglect are affecting many girls in Liberia. Several dignitaries attended the ceremony, including the Minister of Labour Charles Saah N’tow, Gender and Social Protection Minister Madam Julia Duncan-Cassell, UNFPA Country Representative Dr. Oluremi Sogunro, Representative Larry P. Younquoi, Chairman of the Liberian Parliamentary Council on Population and Development, Dr. T. Edward Liberty, Chairman of the National Population Commission and Director-General of the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services or LISGIS and the President of the Federation of Liberian Youth or FLY, Augustine Tamba, among others.
Earlier, a Liberian girl Miss Kulah Fofana, shared her experience as a growing up child confronted with various challenges in displaced and refugee camps during the Liberian Civil War, emphasizing that whatever the situation, education for young people must never stop.
“Today, we need the family values to be brought back in the family; Liberia is eight in the world with the highest number of teenage pregnancy”, she disclosed. Miss Fofana said one out of three girls in Liberia gets pregnant at age 18, and stressed the need to invest in both girls and boys in building a productive society.
UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin says the new development agenda calls on the world to leave no one behind. He said, “To reach those furthest behind, leaders and communities must focus on and stand up for the human rights of the most marginalized teenage girls, particularly those who are poor, out of school, exploited, or subjected to harmful traditional practices, including child marriage.”
By Jonathan Browne