Women’s Group urges 54th Legislature Liberia among four African countries yet to prohibit FGM following 12 years of female presidency The National Working Group Against Female Genital Mutilation (NAWOGA-FGM) has called on members of the 54th Legislature to enact a law that will ban the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Liberia.The head of the steering committee of NAWOGA-FGM, Maim D. Robinson, told reporters over the weekend that Liberia needs to respect the provisions of the international treaties and conventions to which it is a signatory.“We are calling on lawmakers and President George Weah to understand our feelings by protecting the rights of many young women and girls that are often oppressed and subjected to inhumane treatments under the disguise of tradition by legislating a law that will criminalize only the part of traditional rituals that involves the practice of FGM,” Robinson said.NAWOGA-FGM is a sub-civil society organization operating under the supervision of the National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL) whose primary focus is to ensure the elimination of all practices that are known to be harmful to women and girls.Robinson said that while many FGM advocates believe that it is culturally rooted, they are yet to provide the medical essentials to retain it as a practice.“We are convinced that this practice violates girls and women’s rights to health, security and physical integrity,” she noted, adding that FGM denies women and girls their rights to be free from torture and inhumane or degrading treatment, and the right to life as in the case of death as a result of the practice.Article 5b of the Liberian Constitution states that, “The state shall preserve, protect and promote positive culture and ensure that traditional values which are compatible with public policy and national progress are adopted and developed as an integral part of the growing needs of the society.”Article 11(c) states that, “All persons are equal before the law, and therefore entitled to equal protection of the law.”“In light of these constitutional provisions, can we say that our women are treated equally as real human beings like their male counterparts when the practice of FGM is meant to control their sexuality, deny them of enjoying the real pleasure of a God-given desire, besides the volume of negative health effects it plunges the victims into?” she asked rhetorically.Robinson said Liberia is a signatory to the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, including the Maputo Protocol on Human Rights, the Rights of Women in Africa, the convention of the Rights of a Child among many other conventions, and as such, her organization wants to ensure that those rights are fully enjoyed at all times.The head of the NAWOGA-FGM steering committee said the members of the national working group are not against ‘good’ cultural values and norms, but are advocating for government to revisit certain cultural practices such as son-preference, battering, FGM, sassy wood, forced feeding among many others that tend to violate the rights and dignities of others and contribute nothing positive to the country’s heritage.She said while Liberia is among four African countries that are yet to prohibit FGM, 28 other countries that once practiced the culture have abolished it because they believe it is unlawful and a human rights violation.“As a conglomeration of civil society organizations, we appeal to President George Weah and members of the legislature to save the lives of many would be victims of FGM. Our women and girls deserve more than being treated as lesser humans. This call is not only from NAWOGA-FGM, but many other voiceless women out there as well,” Robinson said.According to the UN Secretary General’s 2017 report, an estimated 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some forms of FGM, and girls at the age of 14 and younger represent 44 million of those who have been cut.This practice, the report continued, “is mostly carried out on young girls sometimes between infancy and age 15. Due to the gruesomeness associated with the FGM procedures, victims experience severe bleeding and health complications, including cysts, infections, infertility as well as child birth complications and increased risk of newborn deaths.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Madam Maima Robinson reading the group’s press statement.
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! If you’re a performance-hungry stock jockey, you probably have a fistful of investment heroes that you look up to, such as Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch and Bill Miller. Those of us who index have our own list of heroes. True, it’s a somewhat nerdier group (but unlike their heroes, many of ours have won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics). Somewhere on that list you would likely find Rex Sinquefield, 61 years old, who just retired as co-chairman of Dimensional Fund Advisors, a leading provider of index funds, with $86 billion under management. To be sure, Mr. Sinquefield isn’t exactly a household name. But his career has paralleled the rise of indexing, and he has played a key role in putting modern financial theory into practice. Interested in building an indexfund portfolio? It’s worth considering Mr. Sinquefield’s innovations and whether you want to incorporate them into your own investment strategy. Mind the Gap Indexing was born in the early 1970s, and Mr. Sinquefield was there at the inception. He spent three years studying to become a priest, but eventually opted for finance instead. In 1972, he got a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago, arguably the country’s top school for economics, and then started work at the American National Bank of Chicago. There, he was involved in the 1973 launch of one of the first institutional funds designed to track the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index. As part of the bank’s pitch to potential clients, Mr. Sinquefield wanted to point out the value of simply capturing the stock market’s performance and found the data didn’t exist. “It was astonishing,” he recalls. “Today, it’s hard to imagine a world in which there’s very little data to show how different investments have done. Today, you can have almost any data you want at the push of a button.” To generate the data he needed, Mr. Sinquefield worked with Roger Ibbotson, whom he had met at the University of Chicago. Their research formed the basis for what has become “Stocks, Bonds, Bills, and Inflation,” the annual compendium of investment returns now put out by Ibbotson Associates, the Chicago investment-research firm subsequently founded by Mr. Ibbotson. The initial work by Messrs. Ibbotson and Sinquefield provided investors with two startling insights. First, they found there was scant difference in the historical returns of long-term and short-term bonds, suggesting that investors were better off favoring the safety of shortterm securities. Second, they discovered there was a huge gap between the longrun performance of stocks and bonds. Indeed, in the years since, there has been heated debate among academics, with many arguing that the stock market’s vastly superior performance couldn’t be explained by risk alone. Some even suggested that all the publicity might prompt folks to bid up the price of stocks, so that the performance gap thereafter would be narrower. “People said, now we know about it, it’ll disappear,” Mr. Sinquefield says. “But it’s persisted.” In fact, he thinks historical stock performance can be a reasonably good guide to the future. Mr. Sinquefield notes that stocks have climbed at more than 10% a year, with the rise in the stock market’s price/earnings multiple contributing roughly one percentage point a year to this long-run return. “If you want to use historical data and extrapolate it into the future, all you have to do is knock off that one percentage point,” he says. Result: We might see average returns of 9% or 9.5%, equal to maybe six percentage points a year above inflation. Finding Value In 1981, Mr. Sinquefield launched Dimensional Fund Advisors with David Booth, whom he had also met at the University of Chicago. Initially, the Santa Monica, Calif., firm had just one index mutual fund, which was designed to track the performance of small-company stocks. That fund drew on academic research showing that small stocks outperformed larger companies. In the years that followed, DFA launched other small-cap index funds, including funds that track small stocks in Europe, Japan, the Pacific Rim and the United Kingdom. These and other DFA funds are available only to institutional investors and through DFAapproved investment advisers. In 1993, the firm launched a second series of funds, once again drawing on a key piece of academic research. The research, conducted by finance professors Eugene Fama and Kenneth French, found that bargain-priced “value” shares outperformed fast-expanding, more-glamorous “growth” stocks. In fact, research has found that value stocks have generated superior returns not only in the U.S., but also in many other countries, including emerging markets. “The only proven avenues for earning above-average returns are small and value,” Mr. Sinquefield says. As he sees it, this is entirely logical: Small companies and value stocks are riskier, so investors ought to expect higher long-run returns. The risk explanation certainly makes sense with small companies. Small stocks tend to be wild stockmarket performers, reflecting the dicey nature of their underlying business. A small company might have just one or two product lines, so its sales and earnings will typically be more erratic than that of a bigger, better-established company. By contrast, it isn’t so clear that value stocks are riskier than growth stocks. Like small stocks, value companies often are a dodgy proposition. Indeed, a value stock may be cheaply priced compared to earnings and corporate assets because the company’s underlying business is in serious trouble and there’s a real risk that things could get a whole lot worse. But unlike small stocks, this business risk doesn’t always show up in stock-market performance. Value stocks are often less volatile than growth stocks, suggesting that value stocks are less risky. This is a critical issue. If value stocks aren’t riskier, investors shouldn’t expect superior returns. So are value stocks riskier or aren’t they? It’s like the debate over the size of the stock-bond performance gap. Only time will tell if value continues to beat growth. “Thirty years from now, we’ll know for sure,” Mr. Sinquefield says. “If these things persist, then we will know it’s risk. If we continue to observe differences in [the performance of] value and growth, then it will be hard to argue that there isn’t something enduring.”