Liberian Women Discuss
By: Morrison O.G. Sayon
Posted May 11, 2004
The women of Liberia having been victimized for the past 14 years as a result of the civil conflict, have now resolved to chart a new course which they believe will end the violation of their basic rights and the deprivation of women from the political process.
In order to discuss these issues affecting them in the country, a week-long National Women’s Conference on peace and socio-economic recovery in Liberia is taking place at the Ministry of Gender and Development in Monrovia.
The conference organized under the auspices of the Gender Ministry and the Women’s NGO Secretariat, is expected to review the problems which inhibited the inclusion of women in the political, economic and social decision-making processes of the country.
Speaking at the opening of the conference, the Minister of Gender and Development, Mrs. Vabah K. Gayflor noted that for the past 14 years, Liberian women have withstood the hardship occasioned by the war and deprivation. She said the bitter experiences of the past have increased their resolve to chart a new course characterized by equality and prosperity.
Giving an overview of the conference, Min. Gayflor pointed out that the conference intends to bring women’s issues to the fore of their national conscience. “We wish to ensure that the reconstruction and development process in post-war Liberia is adequately engendered. We have decided that the nation takes cognizance of us, as power-brokers in the body politic of this country,” Min. Gayflor asserted.
She said the conference will review the political agenda which include the exclusion of women from the political decision-making in the past, noting that one of the consequences of this defect in governance contributed to the civil crisis in the country.
Min. Gayflor then observed that one of the major problems that has affected women in Liberia is the widespread violation and abuse of their rights, adding that the abuse of the rights of women was particularly pervasive during the war; “with the end of the war in Liberia, the abuse of the rights of women has not abated”.
For her part, the Executive Director of UNIFEM, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, who served as keynote speaker, underscored the need for the involvement of women in decision-making and the provision of protection and assistance to women.
She then called on the government to uphold the process of good governance, the rule of law and the reconstruction of the country’s economy. She at the same time challenged the international community not to move away from commitment to action that will empower women in Liberia.
Speaking earlier, the Convener of the conference, First Lady Madam Rosie-Lee William Bryant among other things, paid special tribute to the Liberian women who stood the test of time by standing in the rain and sun to denounce violence which nearly destroyed every fabric of the society.