Monrovia — The Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Asa Regner, has concluded her first official mission to Liberia, holding several strategic engagement meetings with a number of high-level officials and women’s groups.
She noted that although milestones have been achieved, there has been little progress in women’s political participation, leadership, and representation in national and local governance.
The UN official asserted that there’s a need for inclusive gender participation in politics in Liberia, stating that the percentage of women in the legislature has fallen from over 16 percent in 2006 to less than 11 percent currently.
She made the statement on Wednesday at a local hotel in Monrovia during a press conference and her engagement meetings,.
Ms. Regner emphasized the UN Women’s commitment to promote gender equality and women empowerment in Liberia.
She called upon the country’s leadership and all stakeholders to foster a common agenda to promote women political participation and take advantage of the 30 percent gender quota for political party candidates, as Liberia is preparing for the 2023 national elections.
She indicated that Liberia has made important strides to advance the rights of women and girls over the past two decades through legislation reforms and targeted programs to eradicate discriminatory barriers and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, despite challenges.
“I was fortunate to interact with traditional practitioners who formerly practiced female genital mutilation but are now beneficiaries of the alternative economic livelihood program.
“At least 300 traditional practitioners have benefitted from the alternative economic livelihood program which was launched in December 2019 under the Spotlight Initiative,” she emphasized.
Ms. Regner was accompanied by the UN Women Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Ms. Oulimata Sarr.
Some high-level officials that Ms. Regner met include Vice President of Liberia, Chief Jewel Howard-Taylor; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah; Deputy Minister of Justice, Nyanti Tuan; Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Williametta Saydee Tarr; and Minister of Internal Affairs, Varney Sirleaf.
Ms. Regner also had a chance to meet the UN Country Team and other development partners.
During her mission, Ms. Regner had an opportunity to visit the vocational and heritage centre in Todee in Montserrado County constructed by UN Women wirg support from the European Union, and Government of Liberia Spotlight Initiative.
UN Women is establishing four vocational and heritage centres in four counties to provide alternative economic livelihood programs to traditional practitioners in an effort to eliminate FGM in Liberia, Ms Sarr narrated.
She stated that the centres will serve as dedicated learning centres for traditional practitioners and young women and girls to learn new skills to enable them to get an alternative source of income to replace female genital mutilation.
The UN Women Deputy Executive Director was also delighted to meet various women’s groups and young women leaders, among others, to discuss opportunities for enhancing women’s participation in politics and leadership.
Ms. Regner also applauded the contributions made to peace building, justice, and conflict resolution by members of the Fish Market Women’s Peace Hut who shared their experience of how they are contributing to peace.
UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. The entity works to position gender equality as fundamental to the Sustainable Development Goals, and a more inclusive world.