By. G Bennie Bravo Johnson
As Liberians wait for the national legislature to pass legislation rendering the 2010 drugs law unbillable, women, paramount chiefs, and youth leaders from twenty communities in Montserrado and Bong counties met in Gbarnga, Bong county, for a two-day mediation dialogue to strategize ways to prohibit illicit drugs and political violence in their respective communities.
Since the beginning of the fourteen years of civil unrest, drug addiction has become a major problem in Liberia, with an astronomical increase in the number of youth, men, women, and adolescent schoolchildren who have become addicts, leading to an increase in political and domestic violence.
Due to the persistent rise in political and domestic violence caused by drug abuse, ABIC is concerned that the general elections of 2023 and other upcoming elections will be more dangerous if the issue of drug abuse is not addressed urgently.
The two-day mediation dialogue, held on January 29th and 30th, 2022, was an implementation of the project “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 engagement in Montserrado and Bong counties” held under the auspices of the Angie Brooks center for women’s empowerment, leadership development, and international peacebuilding.
During the two-day mediation dialogue, 200 participants representing 4,000 people from twenty towns in Bong and Montserrado counties participated.
The women stated that drug misuse and political violence have become a national emergency that requires immediate attention in order to preserve Liberia’s peace and security.
Participants asked parents to examine their children’s conduct at home and to report any drug traffickers in their areas to the appropriate authorities as a means of discouraging the use of illicit drugs and the threat they pose to humanity. In addition to organizing awareness campaigns to educate non-users and users of illegal drugs about the hazards of illegal drugs, we must also create awareness campaigns.
They then advocated for the development of a rehabilitation center and a vocational training center to provide at-risk adolescents with skill training and empowerment chances to dissuade them from using illicit drugs.
In relation to political violence in communities and the threat it poses to Liberia’s security, the women also argued that there should be more stakeholder communication and training for election personnel on how to avoid electoral violence while performing their duties for the country.
They continued by pushing community members not to allow themselves to be trucked from one region to another, or to permit people from other communities to be trucked between areas.
Since the constitutional referendum of May 7, 1946 and its entry into force on December 10, 1946, which was preceded by a change in the Liberian constitution by the national legislature granting women the right to vote, women have had a positive effect on the development and maintenance of Liberia’s peace, both domestically and internationally. This has provided Liberia with exceptional pride on the international stage among its peers.
Cllr. Dr. Yvette Chesson Wureh, the establishment coordinator of Angie Brooks International Center and the founder of the women’s situation room, urged the women and youths in the dialogue, through a motivational song, to not only use the training for themselves but also to positively influence the children and communities. “When you attain enlightenment, strengthen your siblings.”
She disclosed that the United Nations will train women, under the auspices of the women’s situation room, to observe the electioneering period in Liberia and abroad.
She stated that countries experience both gains and losses throughout election cycles. Consequently, it is crucial for women to play a major role as election monitors.
Dr. Chesson Wureh encouraged the women to make full use of the acquired knowledge to save the democracy in Liberia.
“This education is not for you, but for your children and for society,” It is not what you collect but what you disseminate that adds worth to your life; the more aware you are, the more effectively you can rescue your country’s democracy.”
Rev. Judy E. Stryker, a notable social worker, psychological counselor, and member of the women’s situation room, said that there are a number of causes for political violence and illicit drug misuse and addiction.
She implied that the lack of effective monitoring and mentoring for children, poverty, and the absence of a collective effort to combat illicit drug sales, drug usage, and drug abuse are significant concerns facing Liberia.
In order to combat drug usage and political violence, she urged community members, civil society, religious groups, the government, and other relevant parties to adopt a more holistic approach.