Government of Liberia, United Nations and European Union 15.8 million Spotlight Initiative launched in Tiene, Grand Cape Mount County
On 18 June 2019, Liberia’s Vice President, Her Excellency Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor, launched the Liberia Spotlight Initiative, which seeks to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in the country. The launch took place in Tiene, Grand Cape Mount County. Close to 600 people took part in the launch event, including Ministers and other government officials, community and religious leaders, representatives of donor countries and the development community, United Nations, and community members.
The Liberia Spotlight Initiative is funded by the European Union.
The USD 15.8 million Initiative will focus on reducing the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and harmful practices, and increasing women’s access to sexual and reproductive health services. It will be implemented in Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Lofa, Monsterrado and Nimba, the five counties with the highest prevalence of SGBV in Liberia.
Vice President Taylor said Liberia’s selection as one of the eight Spotlight countries is an indication that the country has a lot of work to do to eliminate all forms of SGBV against women and girls.
“We hope that at the end, attitudes, customs and laws will be changed for the betterment of our country,’’ she said. “Gender equality is the crux of the matter.’’
The Vice President stressed that the President, H. E. Dr. George Manneh Weah, will pass an Executive Order banning Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as the Legislature works on passing the Domestic Violence Bill. Gender-based violence against women and girls is particularly high in Liberia. According to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), 2,105 cases of SGBV were reported in 2018, comprising 420 more cases than in 2017.
“Many women and girls still suffer gender-based violence, one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations of our time. Gender based violence must be fought and eliminated,” said Mr. Juan Antonio Frutos Goldaratz, Chargé d'Affaires of the European Union Delegation to Liberia.
The Liberia Spotlight Initiative will be implemented in Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Lofa, Monsterrado and Nimba counties to tackle the root causes of violence against women and girls and provide quality services for survivors and reparations for victims of violence.
The government of Liberia, United Nations, European Union and partners will work with a cross section of stakeholders including communities, students, teachers, parents, traditional and religious leaders and other institutions such as the Liberia National Police, the Judiciary and the Legislature to prevent and respond to SGBV cases.
”Progress is possible,” said Yacoub El Hillo, the UN Resident Coordinator, “and the Spotlight Initiative creates space for all in society including traditional leaders, who are a powerful segment of Liberian society, to play an active role in ending violence against women and girls.” The Liberia Spotlight Initiative builds on existing programmes’’, highlighted El Hillo.
The Liberia Spotlight Initiative will also contribute to the achievement of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).