On March 8, 2015, ActionAid Liberia joined the rest of the world to celebrate International Women’s Day 2015. The day was recognized with several activities including a memorial service for the women and victims of the Ebola virus disease.
Here at ActionAid Liberia we are celebrating and highlighting women and women rights issues throughout the month of March. And we are excited to be represented at this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) where government representatives, women’s rights activists and policy leaders are meeting to discuss issues affecting women around the world. The event runs from March 9 to March 20 in New York.
This year, the focus of the CSW is to review the Beijing Platform for Action (Beijing +20) - the agreement governments made twenty years ago in Beijing to improve the lives of women. Since the declaration was signed by almost all countries in 1995, some progress has been made with two-thirds of countries that signed the declaration having enacted legislation on domestic violence. This is a major step in addressing a staggering human rights abuse that affects so many.
Yet a lot more needs to be done when research is still telling us that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner.
As a part of our plan for the two weeks long event, ActionAid is hoping to influence the Beijing +20 agenda moving forward.
Our colleagues from the ActionAid Liberia Women’s Rights team, Elizabeth and Aisha, are participating in the events taking place in New York and they are providing regular updates on the events, discussion panels and networking sessions they are attending.
You can read about some of the activities below:
Sunday, March 8: March in March
Women activists, civil society organizations and government delegates gathered at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday to parade the principle streets of New York on Sunday. The march was in recognition of gains made since Beijing +20. The participants, led by women, sang songs of empowerment, displayed key women’s rights messages and shouted out demanding 50- 50 gender equality at every level.
ActionAid Liberia shared experiences, lessons learned and best practices from Liberia. Our colleagues also highlighted some of the issues still affecting women and girls in Liberia despite us having a female president.
The team also supported the Nigerian delegation to call on international communities support their Bring Back our girl’s campaign. The March was well attended but key women’s/human right organizations did not attend as they are not happy over the drafting of the declaration. It was visible that key women’s right issues were not highlighted in the document and NGOs and government were not given full space to make input.
Monday, March 9: Amplifying human rights agenda with young women
This side event was hosted by the World YWCA, Council of Churches and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA). The session focused on advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights for women around the world. The discussion panel included representatives from the religious community, a feminist/activist, a researcher from the Jewish community and the Executive Secretary General of World YWCA. Presentations covered topics from sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR), HIV and AIDS integrated SRHR and Faith-based theology. During the panel discussion, we shared ActionAid Liberia’s intervention on enhancing the protection of women, girls and other vulnerable groups on access to SRHR issues within Liberia. It was noted that, most often, women and girls are usually stigmatize and seen as opposition when dealing with issues of SRHR and they are not included discussions on these issues which affect them. ActionAid believes that this is wrong and we want to effect change in this regard.
Elizabeth and Aisha are hard at work representing ActionAid Liberia at the CSW conference in New York. We will provide more updates from their activities over the next week. Watch this space for more information!