Assistant Secretary General and UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Asa Regner visits Liberia
On her first official visit to Liberia, from 26 to 29 June 2022, the Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Asa Regner held several strategic engagement meetings with high-level government officials including the Vice President of Liberia, Chief Dr. Jewel Howard Taylor to reiterate UN Women’s commitment to support the Government and people of Liberia to promote gender equality and women empowerment in the country.
Ms. Regner also met with the the UN Country Team, members of the diplomatic community, development partners and representatives of women’s groups as well as beneficiaries of UN Women interventions in Liberia.
During her engagements, Ms. Regner was accompanied by the UN Women Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Ms. Oulimata Sarr.
Ms. Regner noted that Liberia has made important strides to advance the rights of women and girls over the past two decades through legislative reforms and targeted programmes to eradicate discriminatory barriers and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, despite challenges.
Ms. Regner had an opportunity to visit the vocational and heritage centre in Todee in Montserrado County in northwestern Liberia and interacted with former traditional practitioners of female genital mutilation (FGM). The heritage centre was constructed by UN Women under the European Union, United Nations and Government of Liberia Spotlight Initiative.
The Spotlight Initiative is establishing four vocational and heritage centres in four Counties to provide alternative economic livelihood programs to traditional practitioners as part of interventions to eliminate FGM in Liberia. The centres will serve as dedicated learning centres for traditional practitioners and young women and girls to acquire new livelihood skills.
At least 300 traditional practitioners have benefitted from the alternative economic livelihood programme, which was launched in December 2019 under the Spotlight Initiative. The practitioners are now stopping FGM and opting to embark on other income generating activities such as climate smart agriculture.
“I was seven years old when I was initiated into FGM. It was painful. My two daughters will not go through the same process,” said Helena David, who experienced FGM at a young age, and still has bitter memories of the experience.
“It is important to work towards the elimination of any harmful practices against women and girls, says Ms. Regner.
In other efforts to eliminate FGM in Liberia, the National Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia (NACCEL) in collaboration with the Government suspended the practice of FGM in Liberia for three years from 2022 to 2025.
Ms. Regner 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 percentage of women in the legislature has fallen from over 16 percent in 2006 to less than 11 percent currently.
Ms. Regner called upon the country leadership 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 elections.
The UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Ms. Regner was also delighted to meet various women’s groups and young women leaders 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 strengthening social cohesion and supporting women's access to justice.
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.