University of Liberia joins fight against sexual gender-based violence

A cross-section of participants of the “Orange Day” event held at the University of Liberia Fendell Campus. Photo: UN Women/Winston Daryoue

Faculty and students of the University of Liberiahave joined in calling for stronger actions to end all forms of violence against women and girls as they hosted the first university dialogue on preventions of sexual gender-based violence organized in observance of “Orange Day.”

“Orange Day” is designated by the UN as a day to raise awareness and take action to end violence against women and girls.

Addressing participants of “Orange Day” event at the University of Liberia Fendell Campus, the President of the University Dr.  Ophelia I. Weeks said: “No matter where violence against women happens, what form it takes, and whom it impacts, it must be stopped.”

Dr. Weeks highlighted the importance of creating safe spaces for women and girls, especially on university campuses.

“Violence against women on college and university campuses including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking are serious, widespread problem. Sexual victimization of female college students is escalating significantly.”

The event was organized by UN Women in collaboration with Orange Liberia, the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, and the University of Liberia with support from the Government of Sweden.

Speaking during the event, UN Women Liberia Representative Ms. Marie Goreth Nizigama said the prevention of violence against women and girls is the responsibility of everyone as the situation is widespread with many cases being reported than ever before.

“Women and young girls continue to be battered and raped and very few cases are reported due to associated fear, stigma and discrimination,” Ms. Marie Goreth explained.

The UN Women Liberia Representative recognized the support of the Government of Sweden and the partnership with Orange Liberia as critical to the response to sexual gender-based violence in Liberia.

Also speaking, the Swedish Ambassador to Liberia Ms. Ingrid Wetterqvist explained that addressing sexual gender-based violence requires a broader approach that considers how children are brought up and are socialized.

“Stopping gender-based violence is not about catching a perpetrator two minutes before it happens. It’s starting a discussion 30 years earlier when he is growing up, while his basic values are being set in place,” Amb. Wetterqvist emphasized.

For her part, the Acting Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protect Ms. Alice Johnson-Howard re-echoed the need for stronger collaboration in the response to sexual gender-based violence.

“We need to consolidate our efforts and raise our voices and take actions now against that pandemic.”

This month’s “Orange Day” event was part of existing partnership between UN Women and Orange Liberia which focuses amongst other issues, on empowering women and girls and addressing sexual gender-based violence.

Representing Orange Liberia the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility Officer Ms. Teresa Sarvice reaffirmed her institution’s commitment to supporting efforts to promote gender equality in Liberia, including the response to sexual gender-based violence.

Statistics from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection indicates a total of 1685 cases of sexual gender-based violence reported from January to December 2017.

Led by UN Women and in collaboration with the Government of Liberia, a five Joint Programme against sexual gender-based violence is currently being implemented as part of efforts to address the situation.

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