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Giving girls choices in Liberia

In Liberia, Irish Aid funds a project implemented by the International Rescue Committee called “Giving Girls Choices”. This project supports adolescent girls, women and survivors of GBV in Liberia, at five GBV One Stop Centres (OSCs) in Montserrado County.

The work of the Giving Girls Choice project includes assisting survivors in accessing support and education services. The Giving Girls Choices project has impacted many survivors and has served as a key initiative in restoring hope and dignity for many survivors.

For example, at the Duport Road Clinic, a 22-year old survivor who was gang raped by armed robbers in the presence of her spouse said; “I wanted to kill myself when I was raped by those dirty men. I couldn’t imagine living a better life after what happened to me. I never thought I could go back to school because my mind was filled with flashbacks of what happened to me. But after being counselled by the lady (Psychosocial Counsellor) at the One Stop Centre, I realized that I can still survive. And through the support of the One Stop Centre, my father was able to relocate me from the community. I have resume[d] my schooling and I am also happy that the person who did it to me had been arrested.”

Another survivor from the group above explained her story: “I am 14 years old. I live in New Kru Town where I was born. Since I was born I have not been to school. My parents have not been able to send me to school. Since I join[ed] the Giving Girls Choices girls group, my life has improved, [I] am encouraged to even start school at my age. Even though I don’t read and write but I always listen when our mobilizer is lecturing and am learning to become a good person. I used to be ashamed of my situation but now am no longer ashamed. Giving Girls Choices have made me to know that I am important, I am now bold to stand before people and express myself I am so happy that I am part of this group”.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment is at the core of Ireland’s International Development Programme, One World, One Future. We believe that gender equality is a prerequisite to development and we are committed to developing and supporting gender-responsive programming and policy.

The Sustainable Development Goals, agreed by the Global community in 2015, include one   specifically on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. Goal number 5, contains targets on ending all forms of violence and harmful practices against women and girls.

One World, One Future identifies gender-based violence (GBV) as a fundamental abuse of human rights. The term, GBV, describes acts of sexual violence, physical violence and harmful traditional practices.

One in three women worldwide experience physical and/or sexual violence. This can have a serious impact on the health and well-being of survivors with long-lasting physical and psychological effects. Fear of GBV can often inhibit women’s participation in decision-making and leadership. The prevalence of GBV is also particularly high at times of humanitarian emergencies, especially in times of conflict, when normal systems of protection are often undermined.

As a result, Irish Aid has prioritised policy development, funding and research to address GBV.