International Women’s Day 2008, in Liberia, by YOCADS: a report
ACKNOWLEDGMENT The Youth for Community Academic and Development Services (YOCADS) wishes to extend thanks and appreciation to those individuals and organizations that joined her in the celebration of the International Women’s Day on March 8th, 2008. These individuals and organizations include: Miss Bendu T. Parker, Miss Liberia 2008, Representative Edward Forh, Member of the Liberian Parliament District #12, Montserrado County and also youth and faith based organizations, young people, students, civil society organizations, school administrators, teachers, ordinary Liberian and local communities who joined million of people around the world to observed this important Women’s Day in Liberia.
BACKGROUND: In consistent with the international agreed upon goals the Millennium Development Goals #3 which state promote gender equality and empower women in relationship to the International Women’s Day that presents another opportunity to advocate for women’s issues in general and particularly gender equality as also espoused in the MDGs. In 1975 it was designated as International Women’s year by the United National. Since that time civil society organizations and governments around the world have also observed the day by holding large scale events that honor women’s advancement and action required to ensure that women’s equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life. That is why, YOCADS joined million of activists around the world to observed the International Women’s Day which was characterized by radio talk show, meeting with members of the Liberian parliament, celebrity and was climate on 8th March, 2008 with an interactive forum on “The Prevention of Violence against women and girls in Liberia” held in the brought of New Kru town, Bushrod island. Hence, YOCADS strongly believed that equal participation of men and women in decision making processes such as education, business, politics etc. is crucial in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals in Liberia.
OBJECTIVES: The objectives of observing the International Women’s Day in Liberia include:
Ø To ensure that every woman, girl or child who lives in Liberia is free from intimidation, violence and abuse.
Ø To petition political leaders and relevant authorities to bring to justice the killer of late Tennise Doe, age 15, who was allegedly gang raped, beaten and subsequently found dead on the beach on November 29, 2007 and also late Alvin Davis who was allegedly kicked to death on December 25, 2007.
Ø To ensure that government take all necessary measure in confirmative with the constitution of Liberia to stop the continue violence and discrimination against women and girls.
Ø Talk Show
Ø Meeting with members of the Liberian Parliament and Celebrity
Ø An interactive forum on the theme ” The Prevention of Violence against women and girls in Liberia”.
* Radio the world over is significant and the fastest way of communication and as such, YOCADS was invited on a local talk show in preparation of the International Women´s Day with the purpose of informing the massive about issues surrounding the International Women’s Day. Appearing on the radio talk show was the mother of late Alvin Davis, Ms. Rachel Boley and YOCADS staffs Ms.Barbara L Ketler and Mr. Zolu F.Gobah to listen to this talk show please check star Radio,” I beg to Differ” (www.starradio.org).
* In the process of securing political will and celebrity involvement in preventing violence against women and girls and deliver justice to the poor. YOCADS had a meeting with members of the Liberian parliament and celebrity. Individuals, YOCADS had meeting with Ms Bendu T. Parker, Miss Liberia 2008, the nature of the meeting was to figure out the significant role, she play as Miss Liberia in urging young people to recognized women and girls rights in respect to reducing violence against women and securing justice for the poor in every part of Liberia. Further more,YOCADS, had meeting with Representative Edward Forh member of Liberian parliament of District #12, Montserrado,this meeting was center around, what led to the death of late Tennis Doe, who was allegedly gang raped, beaten and found dead on the beach and how can the perpetrator be brought to justice.
* The observance of the International Women’s Day was climax with an interactive forum on March 8th, 2008 with the Theme: “Prevention Of Violence Against Women”. This one day forum brought together more than 100 participants from the cross section of the Liberian Society including young People, Students, Teachers, Administrators, ordinary Liberian, faith based groups, Celebrity and a Member of Liberian Parliament. The Forum also gives opportunity to both mothers of late Tennise Doe and late Alvin Davis to call on national government and relevant institutions to help bring the killers of their children to JUSTICE. Finally, a petition was read and presented to the government of Liberia through Hon. Edward Forh, Representative District # 12, Montserrado County.
METHODOLOGY: The Methodology used in observing the International Women’s Day particularly the forum began first with the registration of participants, orientation of forum, presentation, question and answer, Appeal for Justice by mother Richael Boley and Sarah Doe respectively, the reading of petition and responding to the petition as well as remark.
• Forum Orientation – Participants were afforded the opportunities to know their roles in preventing violence against women and girls in their schools, communities, and cities. Participants also got to know the history of the International Women’s Day and what the UN Millennium Development Goals says about Women. This was done by Ms. Amelia Cooper, Member of YOCADS Gender Desk.
• Presentation – Presentation was made during the forum which was done by Ms. Bendu T. Parker, Miss Liberia 2008. She presented on the topic: The roles of young people in preventing violence against women and girls in post conflict Liberia. This presentation highlighted the significant role of young people in achieving the Millennium Development Goals with specific recommendation to policy makers.
• Questions and Answers – The questions and answers period was controlled by Ms. Tenneh Toure, YOCADS Secretary. Why men and boys are not respecting the rights of women and girls in Liberia? Responding to that question, Miss Parker said there is a lack of adequate awareness on the rights of women and that the government needs to teach these rights in schools and local communities. Domestic violence continues to increase. Why? The presenter said there are no domestic violence laws that protect women and girls from domestic violence. Perpetrators of domestic violence are seen walking free. Young people should now lobby with policy makers including members of the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY) and the Mano River Union Youth Parliament in ensuring that there are legislation against domestic violence against women and girls in Liberia.
• Appeal For Justice By Richael Boley And Sarah Doe – Ms. Richael Boley addressed the forum by appealing to policy makers and political authorities to deliver justice to her. She said since her son was allegedly kicked to death on 25th December 2007, no one has been formally charge and send to court. She also said justice must not be selective in new Liberia. She concluded by saying all women must be treated equally before the laws and given the same opportunities.
Madam Sarah Doe – a widow and mother of the late Tennise Doe, age 15 who
allegedly gang raped, beaten and found dead on the beach on November 29th , 2007
also called upon the government to bring the killer of her only daughter to justice.
She said since her daughter was found dead on the beach no suspect has been found
or anyone charge and send to court. She called upon President Sirleaf to ensure that
she gets justice.
• Reading Of Petition – A petition was read by Ms. Barbara L. Ketter, YOCADS Gender Officer. Ms. Ketter presented the petition to the government of Liberia through Miss Bendu T. Parker, Miss Liberia 2008 and Representative Edward Forh of District #12 Montserrado County of the Liberian Parliament. The petition called upon the government of Liberia to take all necessary measures in confirmative with the constitution to protect women and girls and deliver justice to Sarah Doe and Richael Boley.
• Responding To The Petition – Responding to the petition was Representative Edward Forh of District #12 Montserrado County of the Liberian Parliament. He called upon the Liberia National Police to immediately release the autopsy report that was conducted on the late Tennise Doe. He said the police cannot use tax payers money to enjoy themselves without concern of his citizen. Representative Edward Forh concluded by saying that he will lead a peaceful demonstration by mobilizing people in his district demanding justice for Sarah Doe, mother of the late Tennise Doe.
Remark – Making remarks on behalf of civil society organizations and participants, was Miami Hilton. She called upon the government of Liberia to consider the empowering of women as fundamental in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
· Women and girls now know their fundamental rights.
· Young people now know their role in preventing violence against women and girls.
· Representative Edward Forh of District #12 Montserrado County of the Liberian Parliament, demand justice for Sarah Doe, mother of the late Tennise Doe.
· Ms. Bendu Parker, Miss Liberia 2008 called on national government and the Liberian populace for justice to all women despite of your background.
· Parents and participants understood the significant of sending their girl children to schools.
- Lack of adequate funds to invite more civil society organizations, youths, students, members of the Liberian parliament, and women from rural areas.
- Lack of adequate funds to cover promos, newspaper publication and television talk shows
- Difficulties in encouraging participants to walk from long distances because of the lack of transportation.
- Difficulties in appearing on local radio talk shows for free.
- Lack of access to internet facilities to access adequate material on the International Women´s Day
LESSONS WHICH WERE LEARNED:
* More women and members of the Liberian Parliament wanted to attend the forum.
* Young people wanted to learn more on the rights of women and girls.
* Civil Society organizations including students, youths and faith based groups in rural areas wanted to attend the forum.
* Funding be made available to YOCADS to involve more members of the Liberian parliament and stakeholder including civil society organizations from the rural areas.
* International Women’s Day Kit should be sent to YOCADS to enhance her work.
*Press Release should be sent asking for specific actions/measures to be taken to protect women and children.