UN and Liberian government officials launching the campaign
UN and Liberian government officials launching the campaign

On Tuesday July 15, 2014, two of the UN agencies, the Joint Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) and the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in collaboration with the Government of Liberia (GOL), through the Ministry of Gender and Development (MOGD)-SGBV Joint Program, launched a new campaign in Monrovia named: “Shining the Light on ending violence against women” and empowering them to remain free from HIV.

The Shine the Light Campaign was jointly launched in Monrovia by Madam Ng’ong’a M. Gulavie, head of the office of the UN Resident Coordinator on behalf of the UN; and Madam Maima Karneh, MODG’s Assistance Minister for Planning and Administration on behalf of the Government of Liberia.

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Partial view of participants at the launching program

The meeting brought together over 58 representatives of various UN,Government institutions as well as civil society organizations and Counties Gender Based Violence coordinators.According to the event organizers, theinitiatives aimed to raise awareness of sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls in conflict and post-conflict settings like Liberia.

Giving an overview of the Shine the Light initiative, Mr. Isaac Ahemesah, UNAIDS’ Rights, Gender, Community Mobilization Advisor said the campaign is consistent with the UN Security Council Resolution 1983 calling for increased effort to address SGBV and HIV in UN Peace Keeping Missions. He said the UN resolution raises concern about the use of rape as a weapon of war, increased vulnerability of SGBV survivors to HIV infection, and harmful traditional, socio-cultural and religious practices that perpetuate gender inequality and sexual violence.

According to Mr. Ahemesah, the campaign which is being supported by the UNFPA and UNAIDS with technical assistance from the MOGD and UNMIL, will be implementedin four communities in Grand Bassa (Compound 1 and Little Bassa) and Grand Cape Mount Counties, adding that it will help to empower local communities to prevent and appropriately respond to SGBV.

Meanwhile, the “Shine a Light” campaign launch was jointly organized with a two-day retreat to review the Phase IIof the National Action Plan against Sexual Gender Based Violence in Liberia, which ends in December 2014.The two day review retreat was held at the Bella Cassa Hotel in Sinkor,from15th to 16th, July 2014.

Earlier welcoming the participants at the review retreat and the Launch of the Shine the Light Campaign in Monrovia, Madam MaimaKarneh, MODG’s Assistance Minister for Planning and Administration said the Joint Program on SGBV is a multsectorial and decentralized.

She said it has five thematic pillars, namely Psycho- Social, health, legal, protection and Co-ordination pillars. Additionally, the Minister noted that Joint Program bring together three ministries –Ministry of Gender and Development, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.She called on the participants to critically review the draft developed, identify the gaps and recommend solutions for improving the implementation of the Joint Programme on SGBV.

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