On Thursday, March 18, 2021, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and Partners held the 65th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Side Event at the Ministry of Gender. CSW evaluates progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide. The occasion is usually held in March of every year at the UN General Headquarters in New York, USA but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CSW has not been celebrated as traditionally done.
In an opening remarks, Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr recounted Liberia’s gains made in championing the rights of women and girls ranging from the establishment of Gender and Social Inclusion Unit in various Ministries, Agencies, and Commissions to bolster gender mainstreaming in national governance process to the revision of the National Election Commissions’ Law requesting Political Parties to have at least 30% and the establishment of village loan clubs to aid women who are engaged in petty trade. Other gains are the provision social cash transfer to 3,451 beneficiaries in Maryland and Grand Kru Counties of which women accounted for 81.72% (2,820); the launched of 50 Million African Women Speak Platform, a digital platform that can be used by women entrepreneurs to exchange ideas, foster peer-to-peer learning, mentoring, and the sharing of information and knowledge, enabling access to financial services and market opportunities between urban and rural communities and across borders; the launched of the Gender Disaggregated Statistics Survey, which will provide accurate data on the Health, Education, and Agriculture sectors that will be used for budget planning processes; the establishment of Gender and Social Inclusion Units within Ministries, Agencies, and Commissions to ensure the mainstreaming of gender issues within planning and implementations; the development of the National Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting Policy; the provision of a life-skills training for about 180 at-risks adolescent girls and amongst others the development of an Anti-Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Roadmap 2020-2022, aimed at addressing the scourge of rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence in the country.
Despite these gains, the Minister stressed that much more need to be done. According to the Gender Boss, the barriers that prevent effective participation of women in the economy and in political decision-making still persist, thereby widening the gap of gender inequalities.
“Though we have been able to pose a tough challenge to our barriers by producing some outstanding women leaders, under-representation of women at all levels of decision making, gender mainstreaming, physical violence against female candidates during elections, statutory legal provisions, limited education, and the lack of access to funds are some of the many issues which are still posing a threat to women’s political participation and leadership”, the Minister Saydee-Tarr said.
Minister Tarr stated that historically, there have been greater barriers between men and women in participating in the economy in different geographical locations. These barriers ranged from uneven pay, opportunities for advancement to unbalanced representation in important decisions that affect them. Evidentially, there exists a huge social disparity between men and women in Liberia. For instance, women living in rural areas have less access to credit, inadequate farming inputs and tools, limited access to markets, limited or no training, inadequate environment for agricultural extension, limited access to technology and information, limited or no leadership participation in agricultural cooperatives and other land and agriculture-based decision-making processes which could help to empower them and form part of decision making.
“As we celebrate this year’s event which is being held in the United States of America from March 15th -26th under the Priority Theme: “Women’s full and effective participation and decision making in public life as well as the Elimination of Violence for achieving Gender Equality and the Empowerment of all Women and Girls” and Review Theme: “Women Empowerment and the Link to Sustainable Development”, respectively, it is important to note that significant gains have been made despite the tremendous challenges that we continue to experience globally in attaining gender equality. The government and other important actors have made some level of progress in ensuring women’s participation and the provision of empowerment opportunities for women”, Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister told participants.
The Minister reemphasized her government’s stance in preventing and responding adequately to violence against women, particularly sexual and gender-based violence and thanked partners for their support made thus far in supporting initiatives of ending violence against women and girls.
The Side Event had panel discussions in which panelists shared their experiences in regards to the Event’s theme “The Liberian Experience: Women Sharing Experiences on Innovative Ways of Addressing Violence Against Women and Girls in Achieving Gender Equality”.