With the threat of gender-based violence looming large over the lives of women in Liberia, the EJS Center is taking bold steps toward denouncing all forms of violence against women and girls.
Concluding a series of activities that started on International Women’s Day, in which former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Amujae Leaders advocated for equality and more support for women and girls’ advancement, the EJS Center organized a discussion with Liberian women leaders and experts on gender-based violence entitled ‘Break the Bias: Liberia in Focus.’
Joining Madam Sirleaf on the panel were Vice President of Liberia, H.E. Jewel Howard Taylor; Deputy Minister for Gender, Alice Johnson Howard; University of Liberia Professor in Gender Studies, Dr. Tanya Garnett; Founder of the Initiative for Youth Empowerment and Economic Development, Vickjune Wutoh; Executive Director of Rescue for Abandoned and Children in Hardship, Ne-Suah Livingstone; and Executive Director of the Organization for Women and Children, Mmondeybo Joah.
The event also brought together a distinguished group of participants, including Deputy Minister for Children and Social Protection, Lydia-Mai Sherman; and Amujae Leaders Kula Fofana—who has a track record working in civil society organizations on issues related to young women and girls, youth, and vulnerable populations, Cornelia Kruah-Togba—a Liberian public servant and advocate for youth and women’s empowerment, and Yawa Hansen-Quao—who works on nurturing emerging leaders.
Madam Sirleaf expressed the view that gender-based violence must be countered with justice and accountability. She called for collective action to reject impunity and eradicate violence against women and girls from Liberian society.
The failure to bring justice to rape victims, Madam Sirleaf argued, is tarnishing Liberia’s reputation and “taking away from the good effort we have made to get support for this country.”
Vice President Taylor took part in the discussion and agreed with Madam Sirleaf that women in positions of power—whether as heads of state or judges—are crucial in the fight to eliminate violence against women and girls.
In turn, Deputy Minister Howard said that gender-based violence cannot be countered if women are not given access to leadership positions. She urged Liberian women to “start rallying around women to make sure we are seated at that table, or else our issues will never be resolved.”