Stella's Girls, Liberia, Educates Voters on Rights and Safety
Voter's Civics Education in Liberia
Those of you familiar with the work Stella’s Girls know that a large portion of our work is in Liberia, where there was a protest in Monrovia, August 27th - August 29th against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. The young women and men were presenting a petition to adopt safety measures for women.
It took the Liberian Government, led by President George Weah, two weeks to adopt a petition, served during the protest, that only asked for greater protections against rape and SGBV. According to our Executive Director in Liberia, Mariama Konneh, there has been no tangible action taken yet by the Liberian government to make actual change. If the current administration is allowed to continue, women will remain as unsafe from rape and assault as they are now.
Rape as a weapon has only become more prevalent since the Liberian Civil War 20 years ago. The rate of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence has continued to rise each year since then. And even more exponentially since COVID-19 hit the country. There have been more young girls at home with male relatives. Rape by a male relative is the most common type of rape in Liberia.
That is just one reason why the upcoming election in Liberia on December 8th is so critical for women and girls. Liberia’s government hasn’t been busy making change, but Stella’s Girls has through their Voter’s Civics Education committee. They are educating, supporting, and mobilizing the young people there for the upcoming election.
Intimidation, violence, and money are used in Liberia to skew votes and discourage the public from casting their own ballots. Stella’s Girls trained volunteers to educate the population about their constitutional rights. The young activists stress the importance of keeping one’s vote and making an informed choice at the polls, instead of selling votes or being bullied out of them. This happens all too frequently in Liberia.
Led by Mariama, 10 members and 17 volunteers involved with Voter’s Civic Education are volunteering by hosting talks, using public forums, and pasting flyers to empower voters as they teach themselves through the streets. These experts advocate for peace and awareness of the issues that affect the people with whom they speak.
Beginning on November 8th, Voter’s Civics Education started visits to all of the 17 districts in Montserrado County over three weeks, ending on December 7th. Three days a week, the dedicated team visits with people in 2 different sections of the county. They educate and empower people in villages to raise their voices and cast the votes that belong to them. That is the only way lasting change will happen for the women and men in Liberia.