— Representatives of CDC Women’s Wing stress
The African Women Leaders Network Liberia Chapter (AWLN Liberia), in collaboration with the National Elections Commission (NEC) on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, concluded its second consultative meeting with representatives of the women’s wings of political parties with an emphasis calling on their Governing Council to accommodate more women in politics.
The ALWN Liberia chapter was established in December of 2019.
The meeting, which is supported by UN Women Liberia with funding from the Government of Canada, also looked at advocacy strategies for the approval of gender provisions in the electoral law amendments of Liberia.
It was held under the project: Women Political Empowerment and Leadership project with support from the government of Canada.
The objective of the meeting, according to AWLN-Liberia, is to support empowerment of African Women economically, financially and politically so that they are able to contribute meaningfully to the transformation of Africa.
The discussion also brought together representatives from the women’s wing of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
Representatives of the CDC women’s wing highlighted the importance reviewing the electoral laws to accommodate more women in politics. Some of the concerns raised were that there is low female participation in politics mainly because of an uneven playing field.
Most women, according to them, cannot afford the registration fees required for them to pay to register to participate in elections. Representatives of the CDC also concurred that it is important for women to be represented in politics, stressing that it is only women who can understand fully the issues that affect other women.
They noted that if there is a fair representation of women, they will be able to push agendas that relate to women and their voices will be heard. If there are few women in the legislature, their voices will not be heard and even if they vote for issues, they will always be defeated because of the low numbers.
Mary Q. Johnson, the Co-Chair of the Women’s Wing of the CDC and Chair of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) Women’s Wing, stressed that her party needs to do more in promoting female participation in politics.
“Because now if you look at the Legislature and even in local government, the women of Liberia are not seen. When we travel to the rural areas, we also realize that almost all of the chiefs are men,” Mrs. Johnson said. “The CDC, which is the ruling party, should do more to bring them (women) on board so that their voices can be heard in the society and the world at large.”
The head of the Liberian Chapter of AWLN, Ambassador Marjon Kamara, acknowledged that since the launch of ALWN in December 2019, the ‘priority’ of the network has been to foster women’s participation and representation in political governance.
“In time, we intend to also intervene in other areas as it relates to empowerment and engaging women, at the same time offering mentorship to them [women],” explained Amb. Kamara.
Deputy Minister for Gender, Alice Johnson-Howard provided encouraged the women to work together, particularly when it comes to political participation and governance of women in politics.
Deputy Minister Howard said as Liberia prepares for the senatorial election come December 8, 2020, the Ministry of Gender hopes to see a lot of women’s voices heard.
Making emphasis on the women’s wing in the party, she called on them to also fight to get to the highest level of decision-making. “Women, rise up and make a change. We are not only good for the kitchen or good for the house but when we talk about governance and law reform; let us take our rightful steps as we get towards these political times,” Deputy Minister Howard noted.
UN Women Liberia Country Representative, Marie Goreth Nizigama, who spoke virtually to participants at the meeting, said that it is against the background of promoting women’s political empowerment, mentorship and economic empowerment, that the ALWN Liberia chapter has taken up the initiative to engage with other stakeholders.
She encouraged the women “to engage in high-level advocacy and lobbying for the message of gender provisions laws, including electoral law reform amendment, which was represented to the National Legislature by the NEC in March of 2020.”
Meanwhile, the third meeting is scheduled to take place next week with leaders of women’s wings of the Rainbow Alliance.