The United Nations Women has held a one-day training workshop for the local media on Liberia’s constitutional review process at Cape Hotel in Mamba Point, Monrovia.
The training, which is part of UN Women’s commitment to ending violence against women, brought together participants from both the print and electronic media.
Others in attendance were Madam Awa Ndiaye Seck, UN Women Resident Representative, and Madam Beatrice Duncan, who also served as facilitator.
The main objective of the training was to help the media in reporting gender sensitive issues and how the media could help in disseminating proper, adequate and more but precise information on relevant re-occurring themes, including gender equality clause such as women having access to equal economic and social opportunities (employment and education), inheritance rights for traditional women and ensuring women’s participation in governance and national affairs.
Using SWOT Analysis in helping UN Women understand the media and its reportage on propositions that came out of the constitutional review process, especially proposition on women’ rights, availability of information, interest of the population in the constitution review process, equal opportunity at all levels, women involvement, and availability of the media, among others were noted as opportunities in the review process.
Participants indentified political influences, lack of awareness and information due to about 24% literacy for women in Liberia as challenges. Others indentified are lack of logistics, coordination and funding, and limited training. For the action points, many also spoke of resetting the media agenda to generate more discussions on the issues and not only religion.
Other issues include training for media on gender sensitivity and raising awareness on gender sensitive issues. For allies, the women themselves, the Female Journalist Association of Liberia (FEJA), partners interested in women’s issues, male champions, traditional leaders, UN Women, the Women Legislative Caucus, and religious leaders were identified.
However, the constitution review process in Liberia is far advanced. It began in 2012 with the creation of a six-member Constitution Review Committee and a number of inclusive consultative processes. The process is expected to culminate in a national referendum in 2016.
The review of Liberia’s Constitution is taking place at the intersection of the submission of its 7th and 8th State Party Reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 2014, ongoing negotiations and finalization of the Sustainable Development Goals and the March 2015 global review of the Beijing +20 Declarations and Platform for Action.
Understandably, Liberia is a member of the comity of nations and has acceded to a number of treaty obligations, which are relevant to the current constitutional review process. Globally, they include the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, etc. By signing onto the CEDAW, States are committed to demonstrating its provisions through means such as constitutional review processes, legislative reforms and application in courts of law.
In 2009, the CEDAW Committee issued a recommendation to the Government of Liberia to incorporate a definition of discrimination against women into its constitution.
By Chealy Brown Dennis