In the wake of reports on the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning recent action to stop women from entering the ministry with colorful hairstyle, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has frowned on the Ministry’s action melted against women terming it as discriminatory.
A local daily reported that female employees of the Ministry of Finance were stopped from entering the premises of the ministry with what was termed as an internal policy which restricts hairstyle for women.
According to the MFDP Employee Handbook published in 2014, Section 7.4 discourages the use of unnatural colored hair (such as Green, Pink, etc) and extreme hairstyles.
But the Gender Ministry has taken aback at the Ministry’s policy to discriminate against women adding that there’s a need for reform of said policy to enable women to have the free space to live,
“The Gender Minister encouraged MFDP authorities to revisit such policy and ensure that an amended version is in conformity with this present government’s own agenda for the protection of women’s rights given the fact that both President Dr. George M. Weah and Min. Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., are avowed He4Shes and women’s rights champions”, a Gender Ministry release noted.
The Gender Ministry’s intervention is expected to yield positive results soon, as authorities of the Ministry of Finance accepted during an engagement.
“MGCSP, through the office of the Minister, engaged authorities at MFDP to firstly ascertain the veracity of the story and, if true – to constructively engage them on revisiting said policy; the authorities of MFDP confirmed to the Minister that the policy on hair color and styles were a part of their handbook”, the release indicated.
Gender Ministry has however called on all public and private institutions to harmonize their policies in line with the National Code of Conduct and Decent Work Bill, and make necessary amendments, to avoid the violation of women’s rights.
The Decent Work Law of Liberia clearly defines discrimination as the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.
According to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Form of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which Liberia is a signatory, states that any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women; irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field are discrimination are women.
The Convention adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly is described as an international bill of the rights of women which is set up as an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.
The Convention provides the basis for realizing equality between women and men through ensuring women’s equal access to, and equal opportunities in, political and public life — including the right to vote and to stand for election; as well as education, health and employment. States parties agree to take all appropriate measures, including legislation and temporary special measures so that women can enjoy all their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
By accepting and signing the convention, States commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms, including incorporating the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, abolishing all discriminatory laws and adopting appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women.
Additionally, establishing tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination; and to ensure elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.
Countries that have ratified or acceded to the Convention are legally bound to put its provisions into practice. They are also committed to submit national reports, at least every four years, on measures they have taken to comply with their treaty obligations. Liberia, as a country has not submitted any report in relations to the CEDAW progress since September 22, 2004, after signing.
Currently, there are 80 signatories and 109 parties to the Convention.