Chief Zanzan Karwor, the Chairperson of the National Council of Chiefs and Elders in Liberia, and the entire council have declared a ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) in the country.
In a groundbreaking declaration made on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, Chief Zanzan with the authorization of 15 paramount Chiefs across Liberia stated, “by the power vested in me by all the Paramount Chiefs of the 15 political divisions in Liberia and signed by myself… FGM is banned in Liberia.”
During the occasion, Chief Zanzan explained that the elaborate ceremonies and rituals undertaken in the lead up to the Zero Tolerance Day celebration were carried out in order to get authorization from the zoes (the traditional cutters who perform FGM), elders and chiefs to ban the practice in the whole country.
The pronouncement was made on Monday 6 February at an event held in Songay town, Liberia. It was witnessed and supported by high level officials, including Vice President Hon. Jewel Howard-Taylor; Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection Hon. Williametta E.Saydee-Tarr; UN Women Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Africa Jaha Dukureh; and members from the diplomatic corps representing the European Union, United States of America, Sweden, Norway, Cuba, and Nigeria representing the ECOWAS community.
Also present was the Liberia Country Representative of UN Women, which has supported the establishment of heritage centers to serve as a place for alternative livelihood for the zoes who are abandoning the practice.
“The traditional leaders have paved the way for us by giving us the first step in the journey to ending FGM in Liberia. We are greatly honored and thank them,” Vice President Howard-Taylor said.
“We acknowledge the efforts made over the years towards ending FGM in Liberia and wish to congratulate the Government leadership in this area, members of Liberian Civil Society, and the broader human rights community.
“We believe that their collective efforts have brought us to this moment, including through destigmatization of discussions about FGM in the public space. We laud and commend all who have been part of the journey,” the Vice President added.