Thank you, Ambassador Skoog:
Excellencies, Dear colleagues:
Let me first acknowledge the significance of this meeting and thank the previous speakers for their wonderful contributions.
The priority theme for the 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65) is particularly noteworthy in the wake of persistent patriarchal social norms practiced in many countries, which have increased in wave as we battle COVID-19.
Despite these challenges, Liberia continues to make great strides, notably in women’s political participation, particularly over the last decade. The successes attained are evidenced by the following, among many others:
- We elected through a democratic process, the first female President in Africa, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who led a successful and democratic transfer of power, the first in more than four decades.
- We also elected as part of the current administration, the first female Vice President, Chief Jewel Howard Taylor.
- At the Executive Branch of Government, there are six (6) females as Members of the President’s Cabinet. They include the Ministers of Gender, Children & Social Protection, Health, Commerce, Agriculture, the Acting Minister of Public Works, and the Director-General of General Services Administration.
Additionally, females account for 65 percent of Deputy and Assistant Ministerial posts in the Liberian Government.
- In the Judiciary, out of five justices, there are 2 female Associate Justices at the Supreme Court.
- We have also seen a significant increase in women’s leadership in the Liberian Foreign Service; with at least 9 of 26 diplomatic Missions being headed by women.
- Women’s confidence is growing rapidly in the security sector; particularly that women sit at the hierarchy of security institutions. For example, Colonel Geraldine Janet George is now Liberia’s first female Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia. We also have a Deputy Chief of Police – Col Sadatu Reeves. Mrs. Asatu Bah Kenneth - a Liberian activist, former Deputy Inspector General of the Liberian Police, and founder of the Liberian Muslim Women's Organization, also serves as Deputy Commissioner for Naturalization, at Liberia Immigration Service. These developments in the security apparatus were largely supported through the adoption of a Gender Strategy by the Peacebuilding Commission funded by the Peacebuilding Fund. And for this, we remain grateful to the Peacebuilding Commission.
A branch of the Liberian Government where we still have challenges in bridging the gap is the Legislature. We have seven (7) women out of Seventy-three (73) Representatives, and two (2) women out of thirty (30) Senators. The Government, under the leadership of His Excellency President Weah – Feminist-in-Chief, continues to work robustly with relevant stakeholders and partners to enhance women's political participation to achieve reasonable parity.
Violence against Women
The recent surge of violence against women, especially sexual and gender-based violence experienced at the heat of the COVID-19 crisis is subsiding, thanks to the successful implementation of the Spotlight initiative and the following proactive initiatives of the Liberian Government:
- President Weah’s Declaration of rape as a national emergency
- The Convening of a National Conference on Sexual and Gender-based Violence, and the
- Endorsement of the "Anti-Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Roadmap 2020-2022"
Complemented with a two-million-dollar budgetary allotment and support from partners, these initiatives are making a much-needed impact.
Priorities to be promoted in the context of the 65th Session of the CSW:
Finally, within the context of the priority theme of the 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, Liberia will seek to prioritize:
- The respect and promotion of international obligations and commitments;
- The enhancement of women's participation and leadership;
- The ending of sexual and gender-based violence;
- The improvement of data and mobilize more resources in financing prevention and response services of SGBV; and
- The Cooperation and collaboration with all stakeholders.
Be assured that Liberia will remain supportive as a member of the Group of Friends for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls and will join in the adoption of the commitment.
I thank you for your kind attention.