Using Radio Stations To Promote Gender Justice In Liberia
Abigail founded The Alliance for Gender Justice and Human Rights, a network of grassroots organisations dedicated to advocating for the rights of women and children, providing training opportunities for emerging activists and promoting women empowerment in rural Liberia. Abigail focused mainly on Nimba County in Liberia due to an increase of Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in the area. Abigail felt that many NGOs focused their work in urban areas and left rural communities vulnerable. Abigail’s aim was to raise awareness, build a community of care, increase community engagement, and build partnerships with other activists in and around Nimba Country. Abigail and her team started a radio talk show programme on two radio stations with wide listenership: Radio Kergaimah and Voice of Gompa respectively. The radio programme served as an oral learning hub where the public were kept updated about human rights and COVID-19. Through her human rights network Abigial had 28 community engagements in Nimba County. Through these community engagements, Abigail mobilised support and gained traction that allowed her to successfully lead peaceful protests to push back and raise awareness around SGBV. For the last 10 months, Abigail set up a SGBV task force across nine zones in Nimba County, and worked consistently with 16 grassroots organisations, 28 communities, and 20 high schools in four cities to create awareness around SGBV. Through these engaged, she helped to re-shape the mindset of community members towards victims of SGBV.
“We were able to break the culture of silence. However, there is more to be done as they are challenging traditional practices in Liberia.” - Abigail.
Movement: Alliance for Gender Justice and Human Rights
Just before the world went on lockdown, Abigail founded the Alliance for Gender Justice and Human Rights to champion women’s rights, promote gender equality, and elevate the voices of women and youth in rural Liberia. As a young woman growing up in Ganta, Liberia, she encountered many teenage pregnant girls and young women living in deplorable conditions due to neglect and poverty and struggling with bullying. Being very sensitive to this issue, Abigail mobilized her friends in a public campaign and research project to understand better the issue of her community and ways to support them. She found that many of these pregnant teenage girls between 13 and 19, were victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence. Sadly, some of them have become sex workers and drug addicts. Few hawk goods in the streets to survive. Through the interviews conducted by Abigail, the majority told her that they want to go back to school and this was how the idea of the SHELEADs academy programme was born as lead programme of the Alliance for Gender Justice and Human Rights.
The Alliance for Gender Justice and Human Rights is a grassroots initiative that aims at building a physical structure/ school called “THE SHELEADs Academy” in Ganta, Nimba County for young women and girls. The aim is to provide a safe space for survivors of Gender Based Violence in Liberia and raise hope that will transform the lives of young girls, train and empower them. The project aims to empower women, build their skills and capacity in social and sustainable enterprises and inspire them to lead. This also will serve as a hope for fighting poverty and illiteracy, reducing gender inequality, domestic violence, drugs abuse and sexual abuses.
In the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic, Abigail and her friends worked to establish Human Rights Clubs in communities to create enabling space for all youth to discuss and take actions on topical issues of Sexual and Gender Based Violence that were on the rise due to the lockdown. They also launched an agriculture program to train young people in sustainable farming and local food production. Though modest, this agriculture program was crucial at a time young people in Nimba County were losing jobs and out of business as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"As a young person, I am resilient despite the resistance from my community and policy makers and I have grab the concept of building a united front / coalition of youth leaders who will serve as change agents and major voices campaigning against SGBV and pressuring stakeholders to support the fight against SGBV. In it all, we shall prevail because we are stronger together. Abigail
Alliance for Gender Justice and Human Rights
Facebook: Alliance for Gender Justice and Human Rights
Link to short Video: https://youtu.be/77OTLF8mzKI