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DRC conduct Citizenry meetings with local State Actors and Protection Committees in Maryland and River Gee Counties
By Prince J.C. Morris ( pmorris@selnanews.com )

Harper, Maryland County - In the phase of draw-down from Liberia the Danish Refugee Council DRC has embarked on citizenry meetings between the local state actors and the respective Community-based Protection Committees in several communities in Maryland and River Gee Counties through DANIDA funding.

According to the Country Director of DRC Audrey Crawford, the purpose of the meetings  is in two-folds; to concretize the referral pathway around Gender Based Violence and Protection related issues by reinforcing coordination and reporting mechanisms between the community-based Protection Committees and the state actors, and secondly to developing and validate an action  between the Protection Committees and State Actors which will serve as a working tool for improved collaboration in addressing protection needs in the communities.

"One of DRC's main entry points in protection and promotion of rights-based issues is the establishment of Community-Based Protection Committees (CBPCs). These committees are comprised of gender-balanced group of about ten people who look into Social Cohesion, Extreme Vulnerabilities and human rights violations". Audrey concluded.

In the absence of DRC the CBPCs have proposed to continue protection monitoring at the borders and report to local leaders and partners. The local leaders e.g. the District Commissioner, the Office of the Superintendent and the representation of the Minstry of Gender, Children and Social Protection have committed to conduct regular monthly meetings per district and follow up on cases. It is also proposed to have a free phone service for communities to call in to the local government. 

When asked about the challenges faced by beneficiaries over the years, the Country Director told SELNA Times that the portfolio of rights abuses against adolescent girls is disproportionate to everyone else, which she described as a related to gender inequity within Liberia.

"In order to try and reach the adolescent girls its important to have strong role models. Often we find it quite challenging to recruit female role models and workers because of the fact of the pre-existing gender inequity; that the girls haven't had the same educational opportunities as men prior to this, and similarly with work experience. So, in order to mitigate that we have to have certain policies where we strive to have stronger gender balance among our staff" Audrey lamented.
According to Audrey Crawford, the NoVo funded Advancing Adolescent Girls Project which DRC has implemented for the last three years was a multi-faceted approach which dealt with many different levels including trying to get girls back into school, providing livelihoods to families who kept girls out of school because of poverty related issues, inter-generational dialogue, self-defense classes whereby girls were taught physical self-defense so they can be able to defend themselves, and verbal self-defense to speak out their minds and argue their points. The Adolescent Girls project also promoted family planning and reproductive health.

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Phone - (+231) 886.836.703

East Harper, Maryland County

Republic of Liberia