In an effort to address challenges confronting young women and girls - the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and with support from partners is rolling out a 3-day (July 27-29, 2022) National Young Women and Girls Conference in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County.
The conference is a yearly program designed by the Ministry and its partners to provide young women and girls the platform to gather and discuss issues affecting them in their respective communities and together, develop concrete action plans to address these issues.
This year, the conference is tagged, In Light of the Bicentennial “Elevating the Minds and Sights of Young Women and Girls for a Brighter Future”.
Education and Leadership Development, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, and Cultural and Traditional Practices are the thematic areas under discussion by the girls.
Historically, In 2016 the Liberian Girls in partnership with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and National Stakeholders developed an implementation strategy that highlights interventions to be implemented for Liberian girls. Key among these interventions is the “National Young Women and Girls Conference” which supports the Implementation of the Manifesto for the development and empowerment of the Liberian Girl Child and contributes to the National Framework for Girls’ empowerment.
Additionally, the National Young Women and Girls Conference is an offspring of the 2011 United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 66/170 declaring October 11, an International Day of the Girl Child. The UN set the day aside to champion girls’ rights issues, identify challenges encountered by adolescent girls and young women the world over and develop strategies, projects and programs that tackle these issues.
Speaking at the indoor opening session on Thursday, July 28, 2022, Deputy Gender Minister Alice Johnson Howard emphasized that this year’s event objectives are to: Elevate the minds and sights of 200 young women, Boys and girls between ages 10-24 years from across the 15 counties in Liberia by developing their capacity as emerging change-makers in their respective communities; Increase knowledge of local communities Adolescence through media phone in talk-show and community outreach and awareness activities; educating the public about the harmful effects of violence against women and girls and how communities can play a pivotal role in tackling or mitigating these menaces.
She stressed that the conference will hold a panel discussion with different stakeholders on issues affecting young women, girls and boys, to break common stereotypes and enhance female participation in discussion and also have males serving as advocates and support girls in their quest.
Minister Howard told participants that the conference comprised of young women, boys and girls from across Liberia including at-risk adolescent girls and boys, college students, high school students, females that are enroll in TVETs, out-of-school girls, the physically challenged, girls from rural and urban communities, among others.
She pleaded with the girls to take maximum advantage of the conference for the betterment of society.
The Deputy Gender Minister lauded UNICEF, UFDUM, Medica-Liberia, Plan International, Brac, ActionAid, Samaritan's Purse, and DCI-Liberia for the support rendered the Ministry.
In a special statement, Madam Ina Williams Christensen, National Child Protection Officer, UNICEF-Liberia delivered a written statement on behalf of UNICEF Country Representative Laila O. Gad.
According to the statement, it is no secret that children, adolescents and young women continue to face multiple challenges globally, regionally and nationally. The statement quoted Liberia’s Demographic Health Survey (2019-2020) report which asserts that 60% of women have ever experienced physical violence since the age 15. "Despite a slight reduction of 1%, teenage pregnancy rate stands at 30% and is still of concern in Liberia while access to sexual and reproductive health information and services is low. Girls in particular, are affected by harmful traditional practices, especially early marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C)," the report noted.
"There are also inequitable gender norms that create barriers to girls' social and economic advancement.The above tell us the extent to which we must use our collective efforts including adolescent girls and young women themselves strategically to create pathways through which girls and young women can thrive, survive and live their full potential. One way to do this is to create the enabling environment and platforms where young people can be equipped with the knowledge, skills, and capacity to stand up for their rights and protect themselves against the vices facing them," the Country Rep statement expressed.
As delivered, Madam Gad thanked the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, the Adolescent Girls Working Group, sister UN Agencies and other development partners for organizing the National Young Women and Girls Conference.
In closing, the UNICEF Boss stated that UNICEF looks forward to the outcome of the event and pledged its commitments to work with the Government of Liberia and Partners for the advancement and empowerment of children, adolescents and women in Liberia.