Liberian women ‘vanguards of peace,’ not just victims of war – UN envoy

8 June 2007

The senior United Nations envoy to Liberia has called for the mobilization and inclusion of all the post-conflict nation’s women to realize lasting peace and reconciliation, saying they should not be looked on only as victims of war but as “vanguards of peace.”

The senior United Nations envoy to Liberia has called for the mobilization and inclusion of all the post-conflict nation’s women to realize lasting peace and reconciliation, saying they should not be looked on only as victims of war but as “vanguards of peace.”

“Such inclusion can only be achieved through the strengthening of democratic institutions necessary to ensure peace, security, human rights and justice for all,” Alan Doss, Special Representative of the Secretary-General Alan Doss and head of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), told a recent conference in Monrovia.

He told members of the Women Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) Secretariat of Liberia – established in 2005 with UNMIL’s support – that an inclusive approach would help towards the success of the ongoing recovery and reconstruction process.

Bringing together and supporting women NGOs and groups will “guarantee that women’s voices are heard and heeded in all spheres of life,” he emphasized.

In particular, he urged collective action by international and national organizations in the West African nation in the campaign against rape, which he described as “by far the most serious crime committed against women and girls in Liberia,” stressing that more must be done to prevent and punish the perpetrators.

Since 2003, UNMIL has been assisting the peace process in Liberia, which has emerged from a civil war that claimed the lives of almost 150,000 people - mostly civilians - and led to a complete breakdown of law and order. A landmark vote two years brought the first woman President of an African nation - Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf - into office.

 

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