Liberia: South Sudanese Women Urge Liberian Counterparts to Push for 35% Quota

A group of women from the Republic of South Sudan has urged women’s rights advocates to push for 35 percent female representation in political parties.

Dr. Angelina Bazugba, Dean of the National Transformation Leadership Institute (NTLI), who headed the delegation, recalled that during the signing of the peace agreement of South Sudan, they integrated a 35 percent women representation in high positions.  

“The peace agreement requires several laws to be reviewed. So in the process of reviewing we ensure that all the laws that we are reviewing had to integrate the 35 percent gender quota,” she said. 

South Sudan, like Liberia, has a history of conflict. Their civil war ended in 2018, with the signing of the “Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS).”

The agreement covers a vast array of issues, including power-sharing arrangements, constitutional reform, security sector reform, economic management, and transitional justice. 

Section 1.4.4 of the agreement states that 35 percent of women in the Executive shall be observed in particular in their nomination to the Council of Ministers, incumbent TGoNU shall nominate no fewer than six (6) women, SPLM/A-IO shall nominate no fewer than three (3) women, and SSOA shall nominate no less than one (1) woman. 

According to Dr. Bazugba,  this is the minimum threshold.  “But in addition to that as a country, we have quite a number mechanisms like the Ministry of Gender Child and Social Welfare, that is also existing at the national level to the state level.”

“so that has helped us in terms of reminding the political parties to adhere to what is needed.”

She called on advocates to consistently advocate and engage with political parties to achieve this goal. Dr. Bazugba, along with 16 persons concluded their week-long visit to Liberia to engage and learn from Liberia’s conduct of peaceful elections, including support to women’s political participation and women’s movement building ahead of the South Sudanese General elections to be held in December 2024.

The delegation comprises officials from various institutions including; the Political Parties Council, the Transitional National Legislative Assembly, the Judicial Reform Commission, the National Transformational Leadership Institute (University of Juba), South Sudan Women’s Coalition, the Centre for Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice, National Press Club of South Sudan and the UN Women South Sudan Office.

During their visit, they met with Government officials including the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, the National Elections Commission, the Women Legislative Caucus of Liberia, the Justice Sector, the United Nations Country Team in Liberia’ the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the civil society, among others.

According to Dr. Bazugba, their advocacy has been backed by evidence to convince the government and other stakeholders on the status of women’s representation.

“We have also continued engaging the government by providing evidence-based information. We have conducted much research, looking at the status of women’s representation.”

Their visit was organized by the UN Women’s Country Offices in South Sudan and Liberia, with funding from the Government of Norway, the mission focused on exchanging knowledge with Liberian counterparts on transitional reform, election processes, and strengthening women’s political participation through the use of Temporary Special Measures to achieve gender equality. The team concluded their engagement on Friday, March 29, 2024, with a media engagement.