Congratulations to you and members of your Bureau on your election. My delegation pledges its fullest support to your leadership as you conduct the affairs of this Committee.
We converge here at a time of continued enormous global challenges fueled by an unprecedented global health crisis. Currently, we continue to experience heightening political uncertainties and peril, devastating effects of climate change and the prevalence of violence meted out against women. We concur with the Secretary-General that “the Coronavirus pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities and exposing vulnerabilities in social, political, and economic systems. It is evident that the virus has a regressive effect on gains made as well as on gender equality.
Though we celebrate many notable milestones this year, including the 72nd Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, among others, the existing global challenges demand us to accelerate and renew our commitments for an inclusive, peaceful and just society; and the time is now.
To ensure that COVID-19 response and recovery plans address the gender impacts of the pandemic, as encouraged by the Secretary-General, His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, the President of the Republic of Liberia appointed two women to head Liberia’s National Coronavirus Response Team.
The Government through the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection carried out massive awareness and trained women-led organizations and persons living with disabilities on addressing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) within the context of COVID-19; including the provision of psychosocial support.
Furthermore, in response to a recent surge in rape-related cases that became prevalent during the lockdown, President Weah declared a National Emergency on rape. He also appointed a Special Prosecutor for Rape and set up a National Sex Offender Registry. Additionally, he established a National Security Taskforce on Sexual and Gender-based Violence and allotted an initial amount of US$2.0 Million United States Dollars for the rolling-out of a road map that has been developed to fight rape and all forms of Sexual and Gender-based Violence.
Excellencies, Distinguished Colleagues; permit me to reiterate the Government of Liberia’s unrelenting commitment to gender equality and the advancement of women; two of the many key priorities of our Development Agenda. To this end, we continue to implement the revised National Gender Policy which promotes gender equality, socio-economic development, and the enhancement of women's and girls’ empowerment for sustainable and inclusive development. We are also implementing the domestic violence bill enacted in 2019; striving to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable. We have suspended the Bush schools, to enable Government the opportunity to properly work on ending unwarranted traditional practices; especially female genital mutilation. As an alternative, we’ve launched the Economic Livelihood Program to empower traditional women leaders.
We have completed the second phase of our National Action Plan (NAP) on Women Peace and Security, geared towards the enhancement of women's and girls’ active and direct participation in conflict prevention, peacebuilding, and leadership. The Gender and Security Sector National Taskforce Sustainability Framework has also been developed. The aim is to enhance the inclusion of women’s perspectives in the reform of the security sector and to ensure that initiatives respond to the needs and capacities of women, men, boys, and girls.
In partnership with UNICEF, we operate a Care facility for children separated from families affected by COVID-19, and we provide psychosocial, educational, and recreational services.
In recent years, Liberia has made education accessible; especially at the elementary and secondary levels. Recent declaration of tuition-free education in all public universities in Liberia has further increased the number of girls enrolment. Despite this progress, the COVID pandemic exposed the huge digital divide and social inequality faced by children in developing countries like ours. When safety measures to address the coronavirus were put in place, the Government through the Ministry of Education had to implement a remote learning program via radio to enable students to continue learning during the lockdown.
We have an anti-trafficking taskforce and have achieved Tier 2 in the fight against human trafficking, significantly reducing trafficking in persons; especially children, and increased internal investigation on cases of trafficking.
Our Social Protection Programs are robust and continue to deliver as expected, with the sole purpose to further improve the lives and advance the economic empowerment of women and girls. With support from the World Bank, we re-certificated 4,175 former Social Cash Transfer beneficiaries and provided cash to 3,250 beneficiaries in two Counties (Grand Kru and Maryland).
In collaboration with UN Women, we also established within the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, a Social Inclusion Unit to institutionalize gender-responsive planning and budgeting. In spite of our achievements, challenges still abound; as they also do, the world over.
Hence, for us to collectively build back better, we must begin to first recommit to addressing climate change, dignify and respect the rights of others, and promote peaceful, just and inclusive society – for these are issues that will guide our delegation’s participation in meetings of this august body.
I THANK YOU!