UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for Africa, Jaha Dukureh, announced her upcoming visit to Liberia from the 19th to the 27th of this month, to advocate against female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage, and support the country’s attempts in the matter.
As a Gambian survivor of both FGM and child marriage, Ms. Dukureh was elected for the position of UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for Africa in February 2018, to share her support of eliminating FGM, a brutal and extremely harmful act against women of all ages and child marriage as well.
Following the youth mobilization and campaigning in Gambia, she worked side by side with women’s organizations and civil society, and played a part in the FGM ban, enforced by the Gambian Government in 2015.
Moreover, she partook in former president, Barack Obama’s investigation on FGM in the United states, in addition to the following summit to end FGM at the United States Institute of Peace.
Coincidentally, her visit will correspond with the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence campaign, which will take place from 25 November to 10 December, under the global theme, “Unite, Activism to end violence against women and girls” and national theme, “With one voice, let us unite to end violence against women, girls and children.”
Ms. Dukureh’s visit comes after Liberia’s sign up to the Generation Equality Action Coalition on Gender Based Violence in 2021, aspiring to lend a helping hand to the country’s efforts towards the elimination of FGM through multi-stakeholder engagements and high-level advocacy and social mobilization, according to a quote by Comfort Lamptey, UN Women Liberia Country Representative.
A public screening of “Jaha’s Promise”, a biographical documentary film about the life and advocacy efforts of Jaha Dukureh, will be among the highlights of her visit, along with engagements with various stakeholders including traditional and religious leaders, followed by a solidarity walk to end gender based violence in Liberia, and of course the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based violence, as well as the launch of a Vocational and Heritage centre in Sonkay Town, Liberia, one of four vocational and heritage centers established by UN Women under the framework of the European Union and UN Spotlight Initiative, which will presumably offer alternative economic livelihood programs to former traditional practitioners of FGM in Liberia.
We expect, the goodwill ambassador is going to engage with a diverse group of change makers, which includes diplomatic community, civil society, government officials, women’s organizations, traditional leaders, and the media, along with raising awareness on the depth, scale, and the brutal repercussions of FGM, and reinforce the overall public knowledge.
Back in February 2022, the national Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia joined by the Government of Liberia, declared the prohibition of FGM for three consecutive years, 2022-2025.
Unfortunately, this didn’t change the absence of an FGM criminalizing law in Liberia, among three West African countries, even after signing regional and international human rights instruments, including the Maputo Protocol that seeks to outlaw FGM, and condemns the practice as a human rights violation.
The Liberian government’s efforts to put an end to all gender-based violence, through the global Spotlight Initiative pursuing the elimination of violence of all forms against women and girls, including FGM and other harmful practices, are strongly supported by UN women.