The UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) says it takes seriously, the high prevalence of various forms of violence against women and girls in Liberia.
In a statement by Ms. Ghoma Karloweah, the National Program Manager of UN Women Liberia Office, the UN agency commended efforts by the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Gender and Development to address the situation but said more needs to be done.
Ms. Karloweah was speaking at the Crystal Ocean View Hotel in Monrovia during the presentation of the 12th Man—a group of men selected from a list of dozens of nominees based on their work in their communities which promote gender equality and the protection of women’s rights.
“Today we are taking another bold step in the fight against gender based violence and the promotion of gender equality in Liberia by recognizing the efforts of these twelve distinct personalities who are dedicating their time, energy and resources to this cause,” the UN Women official said.
Ms. Karloweah said last year UN Women with support from Sweden embarked on this 12th Man nationwide public awareness campaign to encourage more men to get involved in the fight against gender based violence, making sure that they are at the forefront of these efforts and that they are seen by other men as role models.
She said while Liberia is making some impact in its fight to end violence against women and girls, the country is still far away from reaching a level where people would understand that violence against a woman is not just rape.
“It’s regrettable to note that our brothers, our uncles, our sons are at the center of these abuses against women. This is why it is critical for men to lead the change; for men to be champions for gender equality and the protection of women’s rights and for men to move away from being perpetrators to protectors of the rights of women,” Ms. Karloweah told guests at the event.
The 12th Man Campaign complements UN Women’s global ‘He For She’ Campaign which promotes the involvement of men to take a stand for women’s rights and is also a commitment to the realization of the Beijing+20 platform which imagines a world where each woman and girl can exercise her freedoms and choices, and realize all her rights.
The UN Women official reminded the twelve men that they are ambassadors in the cause to end violence against women and girls and said through their work and commitment, other men will realize the need to join the campaign and help make Liberia a safer place for women and girls.
Speaking on behalf of his fellow twelve men, Mr. Paul Newon expressed gratitude to the public for their nomination, promising that members of the group are aware of the importance of their role in ending violence against women and girls.
Mr. Newon whose organization provides micro-loan to business women said the recognition and the support from the public and UN Women have helped reinforce their individual initiatives in their communities.
He urged other man to join the campaign and stressed that when fear, abuse and intimidation against women are brought to an end, society benefits.
Also speaking at the presentation of the 12th Man event, the Head of Development Cooperation at the Swedish Embassy in Monrovia Ms Ann Stödberg congratulated UN Women for taking on the 12the Man Campaign and described it as a very useful and a much needed initiative because according to her, gender based-violence is something that happens very frequently in Liberia.
Ms. Stödberg said Sweden considers important, the issue of Sexual and Gender Based Violence.
Under the 12th Man Campaign, each of the selected male champions will receive support from UN Women to implement a mini project aimed at raising awareness on the impact of domestic violence and encouraging more men to join the campaign.
UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. For more information, visit www.unwomen.org. UN Women, H&G Plaza, 4th Floor, Sekou Avenue, Mamba Point, Monrovia, Liberia.