Making cities safer for women and girls in Liberia

Friday, December 14, 2012 - 08:29

16 Days of Activism has not gone unnoticed in Liberia!

Under the theme “From Peace in the world to Peace in the Home” ActionAid Liberia joined other local and international organisations to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.

This year, the spotlight was on female university students from around Liberia.

In a series of forums across the country, women highlighted the different forms of violence they faced en route to and on university campuses. These forms of violence range from sexual harassment, lack of adequate transportation services and poor washroom services, to a lack of women-friendly services.

Interestingly, the female students in particular, had come to accept violence as normal. During the discussions they revealed how this made it difficult for young women to stay on at university and complete their courses.

The most common form of violence that the women experienced was “Sex for Grades”, where the Professors asked for sexual favours in exchange for good grades.

This led to students having to repeat courses and a high dropout rate.

The weeklong event ended with a big march where students, civil society organisations, government and supporters marched down the main streets of Monrovia, displaying placards carrying messages against violence against women.

Chanting slogans and dancing to the beat of a band, the students rejected sexual harassment in universities.

A statement was also presented to government and University Authorities by University students on “What is Safety for Female University Students”, with the goal being to inform both rural and urban dwellers. 

While real progress was made in highlighting the violence faced by female university students, there’s still much more to be done.

Women’s groups will be formed on these campuses to continue to make women aware of these issues, and to make sure that policy-makers and the university authorities live up to their commitments and help reduce violence.