Miatta Darwolor is the Founder and Executive Director of Sister Aid Liberia, a women-led non-governmental organization that promotes young women and girls’ rights in political participation and leadership; works to prevent violence against women and girls; and advocates for women-friendly policies and laws.
I grew up in a poor family that was deeply rooted in tradition. Some of my sisters and aunties were members of the ‘Sande Society’, where female genital mutilation (FGM) is practiced. Fortunately, I escaped the initiation – but that also meant I faced discrimination.
I depended on scholarship programmes to attend school. When I was in high school, I managed to support my mother to go to school with my income from part-time work. Her education opened her up to discussions on gender equality within our family; we agreed as a family to respect and value the rights of girls and boys equally.
Since then, I have worked with several women’s organizations to raise awareness on women’s rights and the health implications of FGM. When I advocate for women’s rights, I am standing up for the rights of my sisters, mothers and daughters. My life experiences have strengthened my resilience and fortitude.
Through information from workshops, my family decided to never again ‘initiate’ girls through practices such as FGM, but rather promote girls’ education. Sister Aid Liberia is now working with other women’s organizations to push for the signing of the FGM bill into law in Liberia.
Poverty and our patriarchal system are the root causes of violence against women and girls in Liberia. If we empower women to stand up for their rights and take up leadership positions in all spheres of life, we will solve many societal issues.
There is also a need to bridge the gap between the young and older generations. We are not in competition and are equally relevant to the fight for gender equality in Liberia.
Advocating for gender equality should not only be the responsibility of women’s rights organizations; it is everybody’s responsibility to take action. More men need to realize that women’s rights are human rights, promote positive masculinity and discourage negative social norms, whether at home or work.”
Miatta Darwolor, 31, is a Liberian women’s and youth rights activist and development advocate. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Sister Aid Liberia, a women-led non-governmental organization that promotes rights advocacy and empowerment, research and policy engagements, and leadership and capacity building, mainly targeting women and girls across the country. UN Women supported Sister Aid Liberia’s participation in training on women’s political participation, following which they stepped it down to 50 women political aspirants and CSOs.