‘A Woman Needs to Head the UN’

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The keynote speaker of this year’s International Women’s Day celebration in Liberia, Mr. David F. Williams, has urged Liberian women and their colleagues worldwide to join the call for the election of a woman to head the United Nations in 2018 when the term of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon comes to an end.

According to Mr. Williams who is the Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA), for decades men have and continue to lead and direct activities of the world towards achieving global peace, security and development, yet every day there are incidents of war and women and children continue to be murdered in cold blood around the world by extremists.

He went on to say that people continue to die from starvation in some places around the world, adding: “I am therefore calling on women around the globe to join the campaign for parity by ensuring that the world sees reason to elect a woman to steer the affairs of the United Nations for the next four years after the term of Mr. Ban Ki-moon.”

The International Women’s Day program was held Tuesday in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County.

He told the audience, which included UN officials, that Liberia is a good example of a woman-led administration where decades of civil conflict was resolved by electing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as President in 2005, “and since then there has been steady progress and no incidents of war for more than a decade.”

Mr. Williams said he sees women as a medium through which many good things are possible and added that it is time to uphold women’s rights for better productivity in Liberia.

Mr. Williams stated that this will require a commitment from all sides in order to achieve gender parity by 2030, a targeted date set by the UN for the attainment of gender equality around the world.

He believes that women are capable; and with the will power, they can achieve greatness. He named some Liberian women, whom he said achieved greatness and continue to do so in international circles including Madam Angie Brooks Randall, Liberia’s first female Permanent Representative to the UN (1975-78). She was the first woman to chair the UN General Assembly (UNGA). Others are Madam Hanna Abedou Bowen Jones, another female Liberian Permanent Representative to the UN who served as VP to the UNGA (1983-84); Dr. Antoinette Sayeh, Director of Africa of the International Monetary Fund (IMF); Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was democratically elected Liberia and Africa’s first female president, among others.

The Day was celebrated under the global theme, “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality,” which calls on countries to make specific commitments at the national level to address the challenges that are holding back women and girls from reaching their full potential.

“We are proud to note that in line with this global call for action Liberia is among the countries of the world that have made specific pledges among other things, the passage of the Domestic Violence Law, enforce the law that denies bail to those who commit rape, and guarantee women’s full participation in governance and national affairs a priority. These national commitments are bold and progressive,” Mr. Williams boasted.

He used the occasion to call on the National Legislature to pass into handbills the Gender Equity Bill, and called out Nimba, Grand Cape Mount, Maryland, Rivercess and Margibi Counties for not having a single woman among their lawmakers in the National Legislature.
In his International Women’s Day Message, UN Secretary General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon spoke of what he has done to promote women’s leadership in the world body.

He said, “I appointed the first-ever female Force Commander of United Nations troops, and pushed women’s representation at the upper levels of our Organization to historic highs. Women are now leaders at the heart of peace and security – a realm that was once the exclusive province of men.

“When I arrived at the United Nations, there were no women leading our peace missions in the field. Now, nearly a quarter of all UN missions are headed by women – far from enough but still a vast improvement.
“I have signed nearly 150 letters of appointment to women in positions as Assistant Secretary General or Under Secretary General. Some came from top government offices with international renown, others have moved on to leadership positions in their home countries. All helped me prove how often a woman is the best person for a job.”

His statement was read by UNMIL Ambassador Farid Zarif, Special Representative of the UNSG in Liberia.

Also making remarks, Nimba County Rep. Willie Saywah Dunah, who is a champion of the UN Women HeforShe campaign, said members of the Legislature had formed part of the celebration to show solidarity that they support women’s empowerment in Liberia.

On behalf of the Women’s Legislative Caucus, Sen. Jewel Howard Taylor thanked everyone who has helped Liberian women achieve what they have gained so far. She, however, stated that there are more challenges facing women that should be removed.

Sen. Taylor said their Caucus will work with their male counterparts in the legislature to address most of the barriers women are faced with.

In his brief special remarks, VP Joseph N. Boakai, who is a champion of the UN Women’s HeforShe campaign, told Liberian men, “our women are not asking us to take the backseat; they are asking us to walk with them side by side.”

VP Boakai stated that much progress is achieved when men and women work together in partnership to make Liberia great. He called on everyone to work against domestic and other forms of gender-based violence against women in Liberia.

The program was attended by women employees of various government agencies and ministries, along with their international counterparts.

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