On September 23, 2020, MenEngage Liberia began conducting dialogues with men and boys as part of efforts to understand their perspectives on gender and masculinity, to clarify negative perceptions among them and to rally their involvement and support towards minimising – and ultimately – ending sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), especially rape, in Liberia.
The first dialogue session was held in Zorlan Community, Paynesville, outside Monrovia and it brought together 30 men to deliberate on a topic that centred around understanding masculinity and the factors that contribute to the increase in SGBV, particularly rape in Liberia. Each session was concluded with the adoption of a clear strategy as to what men and boys can do to end SGBV.
In his introductory remarks, the Co-Ordinator of MenEngage Liberia, Mr. Francis Senkpanie Konyon lauded the participants for taking time off to listen and share their views on the prevailing situation around SGBV. He also challenged them to take positive actions in their homes and communities – actions that will not only enhance the safety of women and girls, but their growth and development as well.
Mr. Kaliefala Sackor, elder of Zorlan Community, called on the government of Liberia and other partners to support the engagement of men and boys as a key strategy to ending SGBV. ”You cannot say that you are rehabilitating a thief, and then you only focus your engagements on the thief’s siblings or spouse. The efforts need to heavily focus on the thief. If men are the problem, then men should be the central point in every engagement around SGBV issues, otherwise the vicious circle will continue and it will undermine the peace of our various communities,” he said.
The men and boys’ dialogue sessions come at a time when Liberia is witnessing another scourge – increased gender-based violence, particularly rape-related cases. The current wave of cases involving rape is, indeed, worrying as the country is grappling to ensure that all of its citizens – men, women and children – are safe from Covid-19.
Written by Francis S. Konyon, Co-Ordinator, MenEngage Liberia
Edited by Khopotso Bodibe, Communications & Media Specialist, MenEngage Africa Alliance