MONROVIA, Montserrado – In observance of International Women’s Day, stakeholders are calling for immediate action to support the Liberian Women’s Agenda. The agenda is a platform that promotes women’s empowerment and other rights.
International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 each year in recognition of women’s achievements. The day is also used to champion women’s rights and address pertinent issues that often go unnoticed.
President George Weah has issued a proclamation declaring the day as a working holiday, to be observed with programs taking place in all 15 counties.
The celebrations began on Wednesday with an inter-university debate between the University of Liberia and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion University, at the Samuel Kanyan Doe Sports Complex.
During the debate, the University of Liberia defended the proposition that the Liberia Women Agenda has been supported, while AMEZU argued that the agenda has not been supported.
Hawa Dunor Varnie, director for adolescent girls at the Gender Ministry, said the debate was aiming at raising awareness and strengthening the students’ ability to advocate for the rights of women and girls.
AMEZU was declared the winner of the debate. Princess Johnson and Oscar Cooper, two lead presenters of the AMEZU debate team, said they argued that the agenda had not been supported because the achievements of the last 12 years under former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf did not make enough change for women.
Johnson said the failure of the legislature to holistically pass the Gender Parity Bill that seeks 30 percent representation of women in government is clear evidence of their argument.
One of the lead presenters for UL, Ivor Moore, explained in a Bush Chicken interview that although his team did not win, there were evidence-based indicators that significant progress had been achieved in supporting women’s agenda in the country.
Moore said, unlike in the past, more women in Liberia are in leadership, while opportunities for women are in increasing numbers.
“In no way you can say argue that since we returned from war, nothing has been achieved for women advancement in our country,” he said.
Meanwhile, the release from the Gender Ministry has revealed that President Weah will deliver a special statement at the official national ceremony to climax the celebration at the SKD on Thursday.
According to the release, the event will commence with a street parade from the Ministry of Health in Congo Town to the SKD Sports Complex, where three parallel panel discussions will be held. The discussions will focus on the experiences and challenges of former, current and emerging women leaders, and the way forward for women advancement in the country.
At the same time, the European Union delegation in the country has announced that is sponsoring a screening and discussion of the film “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.” The film pays special tribute to exceptional Liberian women for their role in ending the country’s conflict.
A release quoting the E.U. delegation said the film will be shown in the Old Matadi Estate community and would be open to all members of the public. The screening is being organized by Kriterion Monrovia.
Featured photo by Gbatemah Senah