The European Union (EU) Head of Cooperation and Governance in Liberia, Hans Lambrecht, has said gender equality has increasingly become a cross-cutting value of the Union's development cooperation policy.

He said this is being recognized in key EU initiatives, including the EU Gender Action Plan 2016-2020 and the new European Consensus on Development.

Lambrecht noted that while Liberia recorded important progress in the area of women’s rights over the years, there are still gaps to fill as the nation continues to see high number of rape cases, a minority of which is actually reported by victims.

The EU official made the comments Tuesday at the launch of the National Project of Enhancing Protection from Sexual and Gender-Based Violence for Women and Girl Minorities in Margibi, Gbarpolu and Montesrrado Counties.

Lambrecht believes that most cases of rape and violence against women are not reported for reasons ranging from fear, stigmatization, cultural and patriarchal attitudes to gender stereotyping and social pressure to informally settle cases out of the court.

According to him, without enhancing the protection of women, girls and sexual minorities there cannot be meaningful progress in ensuring gender equality and full enjoyment of human rights.

“It is based upon this backdrop that the EU in Liberia fully financed the project being launched today, but which actually began on September 1, 2017, and implemented by ActionAid Liberia and the Community Health Initiative,” he pointed out.

Lambrecht stressed that the EU is pleased to also work with and support under this project local organizations, including the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) and LIPRIDE.

He disclosed that the project is financed under the "European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) across different sectors, including education, health, justice, security, and gender as well as the private sector.

The program, according to him, is aimed at addressing the root cause and providing an effective response to SGBV through a cross-sectoral approach and concerted measure.

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