The Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security on Thursday, 4th August, 2016 hosted a press conference at the Monrovia City during which time it extolled the support of UN Women, UNDP as well as other national and international partners towards the Women Situation Room (WSR). The gathering was addressed via video conference from Ghana by Cllr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh, Establishment Coordinator of ABIC, and accompanied by a representative of UNDP –Ghana and Ms Comfort Lamptey, Regional Policy Adviser for Governance, Peace and Security, UN Women West and Central Africa Regional Office. Hon. Olubanke King-Akerele presided over the deliberation in Monrovia in the presence of UNDP-Liberia Country Director, Dr. Kamil Kamaludeen Presidential Press Secretary, Hon. Jerelemik Piah and representatives from some partner civil society organizations.
Speaking during the gathering, the Establishment Coordinator of ABIC, Cllr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh, who addressed the gathering from the UNDP offices in Accra Ghana, described UNDP as the premier supporter of the WSR, with its support dating back to the start of the first WSR held in 2011 in Liberia.
The ABIC boss stated, “Let me point out here that initial support for this initiative was pioneered by UNDP. As a matter of fact, UNDP is regarded as the ‘god father’ of the WSR, given the extraordinary role they played from its inception, wherein the former Country Director, Mr. Dominic Sam spearheaded support to the first WSR and went on to being an integral part of the process by visiting the Room on elections day.”
In similar manner, Cllr. Chesson-Wureh acknowledged the enormous support of UN Women towards the replication and implementation of activities of the WSR in several countries where the initiative has been replicated; noting that UN Women has been an integral partner in ensuring the success of the Room. She noted that the support from both UN Women and UNDP has been cardinal to ensuring the success of the WSR, which has been acclaimed not just nationally by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf but also regionally by the African Union (AU) and now globally, by the United Nations Security Council.
The seasoned lawyer and gender champion, also lauded women organizations, youth groups and other civil society actors including YWCA, MARWOPNET, WIPNET, WANEP, ECOWAS Women, FLY, LINSU, Voice of the Voiceless, Market Women Association, Rural Women Association, and a number of eminent citizens, who she described as the actual implementers of the WSR in which ABIC served as facilitator of the process.
Making interventions during the media briefing, Ms. Comfort Lamptey, former Gender Advisor of UNMIL and the current Regional Policy Adviser for Governance, Peace and Security, UN Women West and Central Africa Regional Office, who shared the platform with Cllr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh from Ghana, stated that UN Women was very pleased with the progress of the WSR and the recognition it continues to receive globally. She stated, “UN Women is proud to have partnered for the establishment of Women’s Situation Rooms in countries including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Kenya, Nigeria, and most recently, Uganda.”
Ms Lamptey committed that UN Women will continue to partner with ABIC and provide the necessary support for the replication of the WSR across the continent. “UN Women remains committed to supporting the establishment of Women’s Situation Rooms in upcoming elections in Africa, as part of a broader package of support to enhance women’s political participation and also to enhance implementation of Security Council resolutions on women peace and security”, she concluded.
For his part, the Country Director of UNDP Liberia, Dr. Kamil Kamaluddeen, stressed that elections should not be a factor to divide people, as it has often been the case. He expressed confidence that the WSR will ensure that early warnings and quick intervention are put in place in order to mitigate any potential conflict that may arise during the electoral process. Dr. Kamaludeen noted that because of the confidence in the women of Liberia, UNDP as well as UN Women will continue to support the mechanism of WSR.
The press conference, presided over by Hon. Olubanke King-Akerele, Chair of the board of directors of ABIC and attended by Ms. Cecelia Danuweli of WIPNET and Mrs. Roseline Toweh of the YWCA, was intended to highlight to the public the continued international recognition of the WSR, which provides the WSR high visibility, legitimacy and credibility to the Room, as well as acknowledges its integrity and neutrality, as it champions the cause of non-violence before, during and after elections.
She stated that immediately upon the return of Cllr. Chesson-Wureh from Ghana, where she is currently working out modalities for the replication of the WSR during that country’s elections slated for later this year, the process of the WSR in Liberia for the 2017 general and presidential elections will commence. She concluded that the participation of all women organizations, youth groups and other civil society actors will be highly important for the success of the WSR during the 2017 elections in Liberia and that ABIC looks forward to collaborate with them as in both the 2011 elections and the senatorial elections of 2014. On behalf of ABIC, she expressed appreciation to all those who attended the press conference and their coverage of same.
The WSR is a process that mobilizes, harnesses and taps on the expertise and experiences of women to act to mitigate potential conflict leading to violence that could emerge before, during and after election. It promotes women and youth to play an active and direct role in peace and security efforts and to engage in peace processes and conflict prevention mechanisms in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820.