Salutation and introductions:
Honorable Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Your Excellency, Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah Sr., Honorable members of the Legislature here present, representatives of various countries, Distinguished delegates, Panelist;
Let me first extend appreciation to the Government of the Republic of Liberia for including the Liberia Independent National Commission on Human Rights on the official delegation to this 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women(CSW) and for providing the opportunity for me to serve as a panelist on the Liberia’s side event, discussing the topic “Changing Women Lives through Cash Transfers”.
This is a unique opportunity for National Human Rights Institutions to be a part of a country’s official delegation and be given the space to share the human rights perspectives on cardinal issues at these international events.
The Independent National Commission on Human Rights(INCHR) of Liberia is an “A” Status Commission and has a mandate to promote and protect the human rights of everyone within the borders of Liberia through monitoring and reporting on human Rights abuses and violations. The INCHR like all NHRIs monitors and reports on Governments implementation of its treaties obligations and provides guidance and support on reporting to the various treaties mechanisms. Some monitoring initiatives of the INCHR include the commissioning of an evaluation of Liberia 2013-2018 National Human Rights Action Plan which has led to the drafting of a new action plan. Assessment of the health situation in Liberia and the general human Rights Situation in the five regional counties.
As we discuss the topic “changing Women Lives through cash transfer” I will focus on the human rights based approach to social protection and will also advance a few recommendations for the enhancement of social protection of women.
We are aware that social protection consists of policies and programs that address issues of poverty and vulnerability by reducing women, children and men exposure to risks such as unemployment, disabilities, illness, displacements, exclusions etc. and enhancing their capacity to cope with these social risks. Social protection is concerned with children, persons with disabilities, sexual minorities, the aging, etc. Social Protection is a Human Right which puts states under obligation to provide social protection for all without discrimination. The Human Rights Based approach to social protection is based on International Human Rights standards and is used to analyze states obligations and inequalities in the society. The Human Rights based approach tackles discriminatory practices and unjust distribution of power that impede the attainment of human rights.
The implementation of a Cash Transfer Program, especially for women by the Government of Liberia is a positive step towards meeting some of its Treaties obligations as a state party that has ratified several International Human Rights Treaties and Conventions. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, articles 22 & 25 and The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Culture Rights Article 9 call on states parties to recognize the rights of everyone to social security and including social insurance. While the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), provides for the implementation of special measures by governments, such as adopting appropriate measures to introduce social benefits during maternity leave (Article 11) and ensuring that women in rural areas are also beneficiaries of social protection programs (Article 14); the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), recognizes the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development (Article 27); and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), requires that States parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to social protection without discrimination on the basis of ability (Article 28). Moreover, section III of the Liberia Constitution is dedicated to human rights and the Liberia Pro-Poor Agenda for prosperity and Development integrates Human Rights in its implementation strategy.
Therefore, it is important for the government to ensure that the implementation of the Cash Transfer is not seen as a charitable intervention but instead as a fulfillment of people’s rights especially the rights of women to social protection and must ensure that done in a dignified way. Cash transfer is also not a replacement for employment but instead to reduce risk and enhance capacity of women. There is an understanding that the Cash Transfer program will be extended to other parts of Liberia notwithstanding we recommend that the Government begin to look at other social protection programs form women such as welfare benefits for women engaged in unpaid house work. It is also our hope that the Legislature will amend and pass into law new social protection bills that will enhance the capacity and change the lives of women and girls. Especially bills against Harmful Traditional practices and domestic violence against women which can be used as a major instrument for the social protection of women.
I thank you