Women played a pivotal role in ending Liberia’s devastating civil war, but many still bear the physical and psychological scars of battle. Over 250,000 people were killed during the conflict, which began in 1989 and continued to 2003, with just a brief pause between 1996 and 1999.
According to a 2005 World Health Organisation (WHO) report, up to 90 per cent of women suffered physical or sexual violence during this time. The country is slowly being rebuilt, but poverty, gender inequality and sexual violence limit the choices that girls and young women can make regarding their sexual and reproductive health.
There is no law against FGM in Liberia and 66% of women and girls have undergone the practice. The law does state that it is illegal to marry someone under the age of 18 but 38% of girls are married by the age of 18 nonetheless.
FORWARD worked with the Planned Parenthood Association of Liberia (PPAL) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) in the poorest areas of the capital, Monrovia from December 2009 to December 2010.
We trained a group of young girls in interview techniques, and carried out research into attitudes and experiences among girls at risk of childhood pregnancy. The issues raised will inform the development of programmes aimed at supporting girls to prevent unwanted pregnancy, access services and information and make informed decisions about their bodies, their future and their children.