As Liberia moves towards the 2023 elections period, Angie Brooks International Centre on Friday launched an innovative Women’s Situation Room (WSR) Mediation Mobile, which is a platform for 100 women leaders and 100 chiefs in the 20 project communities, ten in Montserrado County and another ten in Bong County to boost local peacebuilding efforts and will run for a period of three months; from May to July 2022.
The Project Title: Sustainable and Inclusive Peace in Liberia through Promoting Women Leadership and Participation in Civic and Political Life and their Strengthened Role in Conflict Resolution, under the flagship program of the ‘’Women Situation Room (WSR)” initiated by the Angie Brooks International Centre for women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security in partnership with ZOA-Liberia with support from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund.
Making an official statement on the launch of the WSR Mediation Mobile Clinic at the Bella Casa Hotel on Friday, May 27, 2022, in Monrovia, Cllr. Yvette Chesson-wureh, Establishment Coordinator of the influential Liberian-based Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security, said working in 20 communities under the project, they have observed with concern the display of political, social and domestic intolerance from the family level, through various groups’ level, up to the political level, which has sometimes been marred with incidents of violence.
“This wave of pockets of violence within these smaller units if left unattended to, will nurture a fertile ground that will promote their escalation into full-blown violence. The WSR mechanism under the Angie Brooks International Centre deems these developments as very unfortunate and believes there is the need to scale up intervention mechanisms.”
Against this backdrop, Dr. Chesson- Wureh noted that the WSR Mediation Mobile Clinic has been introduced as the newest tool of the WSR. To deconstruct the meaning of this new tool, the adoption of the word ‘clinic’ is devoid of all medical connotations, but rather, it has been used idiomatically to symbolize the ability to provide solutions to issues confronting residents in the communities, and also hasten to add that the WSR is not going to provide medical supplies or clinics.
In alignment with the institution’s mandate and commitment to boost local peacebuilding efforts led by women and chiefs in communities, the objective for the WSR Mediation Mobile Clinic has forth to achieve the following; noting, to support gender-responsive mediation at the community levels; to provide the opportunity for women leaders and chiefs to learn new skills through mediation practice; to build an ecosystem of women leaders and chiefs across communities in Liberia; to enable contact tracing of the local peacebuilding work of women mediators and chiefs in communities in Liberia; to develop a database of WSR trained women leaders and chiefs in mediation; to provide the platform for women leaders and chiefs to support one another.
“In this regard, being convinced of the differential impact of violence on men, youth, women, girls, and children, the WSR mechanism maintains its commitment to peace and security on the anchor of the preventive rather than the curative. These funds have come at an opportune time, as across every nook and cranny of the country, political tensions seem to be rising as we prepare for 2023 presidential and legislative elections, and the 20 project communities are not excluded from these rising tensions.”
Ahead of the 2023 elections, she said that Liberians must not make a mistake about the kind of stability they need in the preparatory period because the character of the peace and stability to which the country is currently accustomed, can be inferred as synonymous with the unstable flow of sea waves”, mentioning that this has become as a result of the attitudinal change and the inconsistent levels of political will from various key actors in the electoral process.
Madam Chesson-Wureh added, “Our ability as a country to successfully overcome or painfully succumb to the pressures before, during, and after the presidential and legislative elections is determined by our preparedness now and the valuable work we continue to do today in order to sustain the gains made so far in the reconstruction efforts of our beloved Mama Liberia.”
As a follow-up to various peace-building activities that the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) in partnership with ZOA Liberia and the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund is carrying out in communities, she maintained that the prioritized findings which are crucial to the peace, security, and stability of the country. This project is called ‘Sustainable and inclusive peace in Liberia’ through promoting women’s leadership and participation in civic and political life and their strengthened role in conflict resolution. Saying the ABIC component is being implemented using a flagship program: the Women’s Situation Room (WSR) mechanism.
For the last 15 months, various activities under the project have been rolled out in 10 communities in Montserrado County and another 10 communities in Bong County simultaneously, she added.
According to her, the concept of the WSR Mediation Mobile Clinic is a catalytic rapid-response tool which is providing financing for women leaders and chiefs to enable them to thoroughly and speedily investigate issues of violence in the various villages and towns where they preside as leaders and to resolve them with all immediacy. Being cognizant of the logistical impediments (transportation and communication) that burden women leaders and chiefs in the performance of their roles and responsibilities as community leaders, Dr. Chesson-Wureh emphasized that this new tool supports their upward mobility in mediating violent cases in communities and towns.
Speaking further she stressed that the WSR is a non-partisan peace-building mechanism that mobilizes, trains,s and empowers women in collaboration with youth to take ownership of peace processes in their communities before, during, and after elections. She said the mechanism was created in 2011 in Liberia to prevent and mitigate incidences of violence as the country headed for the presidential and legislative elections.
This, she narrated was important as the interest of the women and youth was not only in observation but to go the extra mile to avoid and mitigate electoral violence. Since its creation, the WSR had played a pivotal role in brokering and maintaining peace in Liberia and other 6 African countries namely Sierra Leone, Senegal, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and Ghana. In some of these countries, the WSR mechanism has been implemented more than once.
Owing to its effectiveness and efficiency in mitigating electoral violence, the ABIC boss disclosed that the African Union through the Gender is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) adopted it in 2012 as best practice and recommended its replication in all African countries during elections. The United Nations Security Council also endorsed it in 2016 as a women-led prevention initiative that has ‘helped to prevent and mitigate the eruption and escalation of violence, inter alia through observing and monitoring, and by engaging stakeholders in constructive dialogue and peace advocacy’. The theme of the WSR is the ‘Peace is in our hands as it believes a culture of peace serves as an inoculation against the most virulent strains of violence, especially during elections. The uniqueness of the WSR is enshrined in its neutrality at all times. The Women’s Situation Room is UNSCR 1325 actualized.
“To our women leaders and chiefs who are getting these monies, take time, listen, this support is mainly to help you get around. It is also to encourage all of you to hold together in your communities and not to divide you. You put down your political differences and agree to this work as anybody can become violent and it will hurt everyone. It doesn’t matter which political party you support or belong to. As an institution, ABIC calls on you to work together to hold the peace of your people.”
She maintained that the Angie Brooks International Centre remains committed to the partnership with the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, ZOA Liberia, civil society organizations, international partners and donors of the WSR, the Government of Liberia, the security agencies, political parties and actors, media, women groups, youth groups and you, in a mutually reinforcing manner to secure peace before, during and after the 2023 elections.
By: Stephen G. Fellajuah