Liberia: “Stereotyping Women Hinders Their Political Participation”



-Atty. Sondah Geepea Wilson urges women to confront the stereotypes head on

The Continual stereotyping of Women, especially in leeward and semi-urban communities, is one of the factors denying women from actively participating in public activity, a Nimba County based astute legal practitioner,  Atty. Sondah Geepea Wilson has said.

Societal perception, social influences and religious norms, she said, are vices that embolden gender stereotyping, and those have been keeping women in the back seat, denying them leadership roles.

“Women are stereotyped because of their attires and their private lives other than their male counterparts,” Wilson told members of an audience at an event in Sanniquellie where she made a presentation on Friday, March 24, 2023. The event was a day conference on women leadership and accountability.

“Sometime, women are warned by relatives that politics is for men and they are denied from speaking in public gatherings due to society norms,” she said.

Atty. Geepea Wilson is an Executive Director of SEARCH, Inc, one of the local civil society organizations based in Sanniquellie City, advocating for the rights of children and women.

She is one of the female representative aspirants in the upcoming general election vying for the seat in Nimba County District # 2. 

She said women have been marginalized all of the time, “even when we go for a loan at the savings club or bank, we will always be asked to bring our husband, something that cannot be done in the case of our male counterparts.

Atty. Wilson, however, urged the women to be strong and fight to break gender stereotyping in all of its forms. 

“We need to fight and have a say in every decision making process, playing key roles as our male counterparts.

“Be part of decision making by playing a key role in decision making, taking part in the planning and also taking some key leadership positions,” she said.

The 2nd conference on women leadership and accountability is held in partnership with the National Endowment for Democracy, a Washington DC based organization.

The conference is held under the theme ‘Advancing Women Participation in Education, Political Leader and Accountability’ and is implemented by the locally based civil society organization known as ‘Committees for Peace and Development Advocacy, Inc.’

This CSO has been training women of the mines affected communities about how to engage the management of ArcelorMittal and the local government about their benefits from the ongoing mining activities.

The topics discussed in the conference include applying budget transparency in accountability and advocacy, how women leaders can increase their roles in engaging stakeholders, increasing women's political participation through the 2023 National Election: what are the steps involved for women to ascend to elected positions, women empowerment opportunities through the AML Community Development Fund and Livelihood program: how can women leaders access support at the community level and among others.

About 30 women representing affected ArcelorMittal mining communities, as well as women from other surrounding towns, cities near the concessional area.

Mr. Ted Brooks, Director of COPDA, said the main objective of the project is to strengthen women’s capacity to advocate for improved governance and accountability in the extractive sector.

“Our goal is to promote women’s representation to county level decision making and leadership,” Mr. Brooks had said.

However, Atty. Wilson encouraged the women to register so as to be empowered to be part of the pending national decision-making, come October 10, 2023, when those with voting cards will be going to the polls to choose their leaders.

“If you are a member of any political party, don’t just be ordinary members. Play key leadership roles so it can strengthen your political participation,” she urged her female counterparts.