The Platform for Dialogue and Peace (P4DP), a research, a peace building and development oriented Liberian nongovernment organization (NGO) over the weekend certificated 25 participants, representing four beneficiary organizations in Grand Bassa and another nine groups in Montserrado County after successfully completing a capacity building training for women led and women’s rights held from May 19-22, 2021 in Grand Bassa County and May 26-29, 2021 in Montserrado respectively. The program was held at the Headquarters of the P4DP, Old Matadi, Monrovia.
The training was part of the activities outlined under Outcome 3 of the Mobile for the Promotion of Justice for Women and Girls’ Rights (Mobile4women) Project. It was intended to broaden the capacities of the beneficiary organizations in order to enhance their participation in advocacy for the promotion of gender-sensitive human rights in the two counties. Facilitators with widespread knowledge and expertise in relevant subject areas made presentations on various modules at the training.
In his welcome remarks, Mr. James Shilue, the Executive Director/CEO of P4DP said he was excited to see the participants who fully underwent the training to be certificated. He said his institution has over the years conducted workshops, training and research in the area of gender related issues but this just concluded one was very important because it dealt with evidence based approach to addressing the various challenges related to gender based violence prevalent in the society.
Mr. Shilue challenged the beneficiaries to put to use the knowledge gained from the program to help their respective institutions in their quest to understand and provide lasting solutions to gender based violence in the country.
Also speaking at the occasion while presenting the certificates to the participants and beneficiaries, Reverend Dr. Wallah Sarmallah Wisitoe JP, Chairman of the Board of P4DP thanked the management of P4DP for offering the training program for the groups and individuals who are actively involved in the area of gender based violence and other related issues related to women empowerment. He praised the awardees for taking their time to learn with the hope of going back to their people to impact what they learn from the program. He said that will be key from what they have learned because at the end of the day, what matters most is what they do with what they learn from all the time, energy and resources put in the process.
Some of the beneficiaries who spoke to our reporters were all excited and said they were going back better equipped, informed and educated on gender matters and positively impacting on what their institutions are presently doing.
Miss Linda P. Lloyd, Executive Director, Girls Education Foundation, a local NGO based in Grand Bassa County working towards promoting girls education, empowerment and advocacy, expressed thanks to P4DP for the training program which she described as unprecedented from other facilities she has been exposed to especially be educated on how to go about speaking against attempts or other measures to that will stop girls from acquiring education.
“The training has further exposed me to advocate for our rights. We are taught not to be confrontational but to be persuasive and get the message to those who matter most in the quest for the education and empowerment of the girls. With this training I am going back to create the space for advocacy to take root in the mind of everybody and I am sure we will get there”, the young outspoken lady said.
Miss Patience Dolo, who represented the Amujay Women Group from District #4, Grand Bassa County, said what she learned from the training has to do with building team work and setting a target that the group can collectively work towards and achieve. “Today, I am going back to my people with new ideas on how we can work together. AMujay Group always has projects to undertake but we don’t have much ideas on how to work together until I attended this training. It will help us a lot”, she said.
“Before now, we did not know much about how societal perception or religion was used to promote biases against women. Through P4DP we got to know that when a boy child is born, there is a high cost associated with paying medical personnel or traditional midwives as compared to when a girl child; also there is much celebration for a boy than a girl. As regards religion, we were told that only men lead worship service in islam and in Christendom, the men also play dominant role as compared to women. These instances negatively impact on women’s desire to aspire at high places or calling”, Said Mr. Thomas Kollie, an official at the Student Emerged for Change, a campus based NGO in Brewerville, Montserrado County.
The Project Manager of the Traditional Women United for Peace, Mr. Sheikh Kamara told our reporters at the program that there are a lot of things they learned that impede the progress of women which are linked to marginalization of the women folks. He said through the training, he got to know that the lack of access to education and prevalent practice of traditions have increased the number of young ladies not being able to fulfil their dreams.
“The bush schools for girls have been some source of the marginalization against the women. A girl goes to the bush and the parents are not able to pay for the cost and all of the sudden an elder man comes up to pay for the money and the girl is forced into marrying that man. Right there, her future is killed”, he said, stressing that P4DP and partners must not relent to raise these issues if SGBV must be tackled.
Madam Gertrude V. Clarke, Civil Educator, Buchanan Mother’s Club, Grand Bassa County said that the training received from the program will go a long way in strengthening the resolve and work rate of her institution. She noted that she has learned a lot about profiling cases of SGBV and the maltreatment being meted out on women because of the limitation in knowing their rights and their own negligence to add value to themselves.
“In the situation where the women are being beaten by their husbands without any complaints, the men buy lands and the women don’t know about these transactions, and all these things women go through. We have been telling them to look for something to do and stop looking at the men who believe that without them, the women are nothing”, she said.
Perhaps what brought sorrow and concern to the participants was the field back impression from Miss Jecinta S. Nifor, a representative of the Liberian Albino Society who lamented the stigmatization the group suffers generally and the matter gets worse when gender issues are brought into it. She said that it is sad that society at this time of century is casting aspersions on them and in most cases they are not being considered for opportunities despite their qualifications for such avenues.
“We should not make pretence of this. It is real that Albinos are being looked upon in our society; the worst is if you are a female. This is the highest point of GBV against women in this country. We can’t be talking about equality when you don’t respect the rights and dignity of the Albinos in our society,” she said.
She however thanked the management of P4DP for finding it worthy to invite her group to the training to learn new things that will assist her and her institution to advocate for their rights on the one hand and the GBV on the other hand. She called on the NGO to always keep the Abinos in their program because these opportunities hardly come by to them.
To be able to execute the project, P4DP received a grant in May 2020 from the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian (WPHF) Fund and Spotlight Initiative through the United Nations Women (UN Women) to implement a project titled Mobile for the Promotion of Justice for Women and Girls’ Rights (Mobile4women) in Grand Bassa and Montserrado Counties.
Between October and December 2020, it conducted a field based research in 16 communities in Grand Bassa and Montserrado Counties through the use of film-audio approach. The training was structured into eight topical areas/modules, namely: Module 1: National Gender Policy & other gender related policy instruments; Module 2: Advocacy, Awareness Raising and Partnership in GBV Issues; Module 3: Masculinity and Femininity; Module 4: Bride Price, A Symbol of Appreciation and Enslavement?; Module 5: Religious Norms and Women’s Subordination; Module 6: Fees for ChildBirth; Module 7: Sande Society Sponsorship of Young Females into Sand Bush by Wealthy Elderly Men and Boys; and Module 8: Governance and Management.