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The Women Initiative for Self Help (WISH) Liberia, Inc. has ended a two-day workshop on its nine month project title, ‘Rescue My Sister,’ in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.

The project is an advocacy for abandonment of female genital mutilation (FGM), violence against women and girls in rural communities and promoting and encouraging girls to go to school in order to increase women capacity in decision making.

The workshop brought together participants from a cross section of the Liberian society including teachers, community leaders, religious leaders, youth leaders, and students, representatives of the civil society and the county authorities of Grand Bassa County.

During the workshop, participants were taught the root causes of gender based violence and the harmful effects of FGM and the need to sensitize young girls about the importance of education, the negative impacts of early marriages amongst others.

Speaking during the workshop, the program officer of the women group and one of the lead facilitators of the workshop, Louise Harvest Hilton said the project has been a dream of the executive director of Women Initiative for Self Help to advocate for girls in the rural communities to turn away from early marriages and FGM and focus on education in order to become productive women in the Liberian society.

“I am not against cultural practices; all I am promoting is education, I am still asking them to continue their practice, but they should allow the girls to grow up and be matured and have desires for themselves, whether they want to go in the Sande Bush” Mrs. Hilton explained. “They should stop forcing the girls into the traditional society, because when you force a person against their will, it is human right violation, all we are promoting is for the girls not to be willing to go into the Sande society” she continued.

According to Mrs. Louise Harvest Hilton, the practice is carried out with harmful instruments that are used on many girls at the same time, without sterilizing the instruments which causes several medical conditions for the girls including Fistula and other infections and it also make some of them traumatized for the rest of their lives.

For his part, the Muslim cleric representing the Muslims community at the workshop, Imam Mohammed L. Gaytaweh of the Vai Town Mosque in Buchanan called on men in Liberia to respect the rights of women and treat them with love and kindness.

“Let the women have their will, let the women have their freedom. We must give our women the free will to think who they are” he averred.
Imam Gaytaweh dismissed global perception that Muslims are violent people; adding that Islam is a loving caring and peaceful region. “I want to call on all men to stop violence against women” he concluded.

Meanwhile, the protocol and communication officer of Grand Bassa County, Eddie Williams encouraged women and girls at the workshop to take advantage of every opportunity that the government has made available for women empowerment in the country.

Williams said in terms of decision making in Liberia, women have not done enough for themselves; citing the number of female lawmakers at the legislature comparing the number of registered female voters in the country.

He furthered that women have continuously placed themselves in back and look up to the men for everything they need and as such they have been seen as inferior to the their male counterpart.

“An empowered women community is a vibrant way of developing a nation” Williams intoned. The ‘Rescue My Sister’ project is funded by Amplify Change-UK and implemented by Women Initiative for Self Help (WISH) Liberia Inc.

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