By: G. Bennie Bravo Johnson
The Women Human Rights Defenders of Liberia (WHRDNL) with supports from United Nations Peace Building Funds, Community Health Care Initiative, and KVINNA TILL KVINNA on Thursday, October 13, 2022, organized a daylong technical training section on monitoring, reporting, and documenting on human rights violation and officially launched the Women Human Rights Defenders Network of Liberia.
It was launched under the theme “Support, Protect and Amplify the Voices of Women Human Rights Defenders in Liberia.”
In her opening remarks at the launch of the WHRDNL, the Chairperson of the organization, Madam, Tonieh A. Talery-Wiles stated that the organization was established in 2021 with the objective of creating safe space for women advocacy groups and to empower women across the country.
She also stated that the idea to create the WHRDNL came about in 2018, when a group of women decided to have a free space in advocating for women human rights.
Speaking further she called on the WHRDNL to follow suit of the Global Network of Women Human Rights Commission by convening to discuss issues confronting the Women Human Rights Defenders of Liberia.
Giving an overview of the establishment of the WHRDNL, a member of the steering committee Naomi Solonke said the organization was established to ensure the safety and security of the wellbeing of women rights advocators by ensuring that there is an environment in which there are leading, inclusive and influencer fighters for women rights.
Mrs. Solonke added that the network is meant to create and enabling environment where women will enjoy and promote women rights and amplify women voices at all levels.
She continued by stating that the network will work with government and development partners to promote women entrepreneurship and as well provide the emotional, physiological support to empower women.
Delivering the keynote address and officially launching the network, Cllr. Dr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh urged the establishers of the Women Human Rights Defenders Network of Liberia to be determined to make a positive change to impact women in Liberia and across Africa.
Cllr. Chesson-Wureh lauded the efforts of the young women in establishing the network and expressed optimism that the older women are now pleased to see potential young women to promote and protect the rights of women and as well be the voice of the voiceless women.
“Make the difference by listening to the voice within you and fight for people who are troubled. Lift people who are down because when one is down all is down.” Cllr. Chesson-Wureh urged.
Meanwhile, Cllr. Chesson-Wureh pledged her commitment in working with the network; promising to assist in developing strong relationships with other women-based group.
For his part, human rights advocate Eddie Jarwolo assured the WHRDNL his commitment to work with the organization in gaining international recognition.
He promised to use his international partners and link the WHRDL with other human rights groups across the continent.
During a day long workshop, the women outlined the roles and responsibilities of women rights defenders. They intimated that women rights advocacy must not be done alone but rather must be done with the consent of the victim so that said victim may know that their rights have been violated and as well know the history of the victim.
The women expressed that the rights defenders must be familiarized with international treaties and national policies on women and human rights; and have influence over policy makers that promote women rights.
For her part, Fatumata Binta Sall told the women that to achieve their advocacy, they must put on a coat of self-motivation and always keep communication when advocating against cultural practices that violate the rights of women and girls.
The women in a cross section of discussion asserted that the lack of political will and policy that protect women human rights defenders, lack of proper reporting channels to report violation cases and language barrier and as well as the lack of regular court term to adjudicate cases to have perpetrators face the law as challenges confronting women human rights defenders.
However, they urged women rights defenders to push for more women representation in the parliament in order to create the political will that will promote policies and protect women rights defenders.
Additionally, they encouraged advocates to create a more friendly communication network and called for support among women human rights defenders to create a proper rural community entry channel that will create the enabling environment in rural places to allow proper advocacy.