Liberia has recently emerged from a 14 year civil war which destroyed the country’s infrastructure. Women and children were the most affected. Years after the conflict, adolescents (10-19 years) remain a vulnerable group in Liberia. Sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) is widespread with 13.6% of sexually active girls under 15 years reporting that their first sexual experience was forced against their will. Harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and early child marriages violate the rights of adolescent girls. An estimated 58% of women in Liberia have experienced FGM1. Alarmingly, 15% of girls are married by the time they are 15 years old and 46% of rural girls by 18 years. These entrenched cultural practices disrupt girls’ education and many do not complete secondary education. 34% of adolescent girls are not in school and 41% are illiterate.
The Joint Programme to Accelerate Efforts to Advance the Rights of Adolescent Girls in Liberia targeted 500 vulnerable adolescent girls in Montserrado and Gbarpolu counties with an inclusive and holistic programme to empower them with life skills, services, information and education to make informed decisions about their future.
The five UN agencies namely, UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO, UNESCO and UN Women partnered with the Government, local organisations and communities with funds from United Nations Foundation, to jointly advance the rights of adolescent girls (10-19years) with special emphasis on girls aged 10-14 years.
The programme partnered work with local education authorities to ensure that girls are enrolled and retained in safe and girl-friendly schools. Out-of-school girls are also targeted through literacy, numeracy and livelihoods skills. Life and leaderships skills were also integral to the programme.