8 March 2009 The Government of Liberia today launched a United Nations-backed national action plan aimed at furthering gender equality, sustainable peace and security in the only African nation with a democratically elected female head of State.
The plan was launched as part of the International Colloquium on Women's Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security, which is taking place in Monrovia from 7 to 10 March and co-convened by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the President of Finland, Tarja Halonen.
Nearly 20 current and former heads of government and some 50 UN representatives will be participating in this week's Colloquium, which seeks to empower women to be more effective leaders by linking with their peers from around the world and sharing best practices on a range of issues.
The action plan draws on UN Security Council resolution 1325 which stresses the importance of giving women equal participation and full involvement in peace and security matters and the need to increase their role in decision-making.
It also incorporates components of UN Security Council resolution 1820 on sexual violence against civilians in times of conflict, which addresses previously-neglected areas such as equal protection under the law for survivors of sexual violence and punishment for perpetrators.
The process of drafting the plan – developed by the Ministry of Gender with the help of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) – began last August and included representatives of various governmental institutions, UN agencies and civil society organizations.
“A planning process that brings together all relevant stakeholders, and that takes into account the real needs of the local population, will be more sustainable over the long term because people will see themselves reflected in the text of the resulting plan,” stated INSTRAW Acting Director Carolina Taborga.
“A plan that is not inclusive will have no ownership, and essential accountability and monitoring components may be left out,” she added.
The plan's launch coincides with International Women's Day, observed annually around the world on 8 March.
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