Community-based observatory networks fight gender based violence in Liberia

Monrovia. A community based observatory network, consisting mainly of women and youth groups, has been set up in Liberia to help in the fight against gender based violence in the country. The Observatory Network Project was launched on 11 January 2012 by Hon.Varbah Gayflor, Liberia’s Minister of Gender. The Observatory Network will initially be implemented in Bomi, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa,  Lofa, Nimba and River Gee Counties.
The Observatory Network was set up and launched under a Joint Programme between the Government and United Nations to prevent and respond to Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in Liberia.

The launch of this network is part of a wider effort to implement a multi -sectoral approach to preventing and minimizing violence against women.

These networks are made up of representatives from community-based organizations including women and youth groups, community watch forums, as well as key opinion leaders. Each network consists of 6 persons who have the responsibility of identifying and monitoring early warning indicators of any potential for violence against women, including rape.

The Foundation for International Dignity (FIND) will implement the project in the six Counties. Two networks have already been established in two districts, in each of the six Counties, with women representing 50 percent of the membership.

 “Each and every one of us has the responsibility of preventing and responding to any incidents of gender based violence in Liberia. This network of people from every walk of life is a great resource and provides a perfect opportunity for communities to take ownership of the fight to eradicate GBV in Liberia. They can be role models for future generations,” said Hon.Gayflor.

Observatory Network members have been trained on GBV issues and the referral pathway. They will also introduce and re-enforce information on rape prevention, referrals and victims’ confidentiality. They will encourage further discussions and awareness on GBV, particularly rape. The networks will meet on a monthly basis to discuss GBV issues, especially issues of sexual violence brought up in their own community groups.

Each member of the network will work with the community and focus on prevention GBV and compromise of cases, improve reporting to formal structures and be the focal point /representative responsible for linking with the GBV taskforce and participate in radio shows to spread information on the network. The network members are expected to create pressure groups in the communities.

The launch ceremony was attended by 30 representatives from local and international organizations including UN Women, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNMIL Human Rights, Conduct and Discipline and Office of the Gender Affairs.
The Bomi County Attorney, Mr. Juma Karnley, thanked the Ministry for this endeavor and spoke about the challenges in prosecuting cases. He requested more cooperation and partnership from GBV observatory network members to ensure perpetrators do not go unpunished. ENDS.