Getting the Word Out: Women, Media & Gender-Based Violence in Liberia
Despite Liberia’s progress since its civil war ended, the country’s rate of gender-based violence (GBV), including domestic violence and sexual assault, is still staggering. Estimates are that between 60 to 90 percent of women in Liberia have suffered from some type of GBV.
But the country’s government and its civil society organizations are rising to the challenge. One of IREX’s partners, Liberia Women Media Action Committee (LIWOMAC), is getting the word out about GBV through a series of radio dramas, spot messages, radio talk shows, news programs, and community forums.
Through its radio station, Liberia Women Democracy Radio (LWDR 91.1), LIWOMAC estimates that its anti-GBV messages are reaching thousands of people in seven counties, while several hundred others are reached through community forums in villages and towns. LWDR airs radio dramas and spot messages that discourage men from beating their wives. Its Mobile Platform, which is funded by IREX, travels the country and holds anti-GBV forums that are usually broadcast live on radio.
LIWOMAC's anti-GBV campaign ties directly to Liberia’s Gender-Based Violence National Action Plan, specifically President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s call to “…raise awareness of both GBV and the harmful traditional and cultural practices that perpetuate violence against women.”
Estella Nelson, President and Founder of LIWOMAC, stresses the importance of this work, “It is necessary to sustain the role of women by eliminating systems that support discrimination against and abuse of women, if Liberia will transform itself into a vibrant sustainable nation. The media is a critical tool to lead this country in the direction, where women, men, boys and girls are empowered to take charge of their own lives and make useful contributions to the ongoing recovery process."
Founded in 2003, LIWOMAC empowers women in poor grassroots communities through the media, skills development, research, and advocacy. LIWOMAC's anti-GBV campaign is an activity under the Women's Media Initiative (WMI)—part of IREX’s Civil Society and Media Leadership Program in Liberia, which is funded by USAID.