Ellen Urges Strong Women Collaboration

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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has indicated that if Liberian women are to maintain their level of empowerment or progress beyond their current political, social and economic empowerment initiatives that had gained momentum under her regime, they must resolve to collaborate with each other at all levels.
Speaking at a one-day women retreat organized by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and partners in Marshall, Margibi County yesterday, the President said women have all it takes to influence their society and surroundings positively, but collectively. “Women can change the world; right the wrongs, change anything, but we need to do them in unity and respect for one another,” she said.
President Sirleaf noted that a lot of talking does not belong to women because they have a special way of making things to work if they really want it.
The women gathered in their hundreds to discuss how they could reinvigorate themselves to push for their welfare in the country; and called on President Sirleaf to help them ensure that all of their demands put forth at the Constitution Review Committee conference held in Gbarnga, Bong County earlier this year, will surface at the ensuing referendum.
Responding to the women’s demands, President Sirleaf said their requests have come at a very belated time as the draft presented to her by the CRC has already been sent to the national legislature and she cannot influence the process.
“I wish you had done this one month ago. The train is already leaving the station,” she said
She however noted that the final propositions – 25 of them in all – which she is taking to the national legislature carry many of the issues that the women put forth at the Gbarnga conference.
These include equal participation, equity, justice, and affirmative action for women and children, rural women property ownership, women inheritance rights and many others. She also noted that some of the demands that the women are putting forth might be achieved through statutes.
The President, however, told the women that the laws that they are asking for can only be achieved when they want it to work for them. “What we put there will work only when we want them to work,” she said.
A prominent women group leader, Madam Ruth Caesar, had earlier called on the President to ensure that many of things that were raised by Liberian women at the Constitution Review Committee (CRC) Gbarnga Conference form part of the final propositions for the ensuing referendum.
She also spoke of the issue of enshrining in the constitution the three kinds of marriages, statutory, traditional and common law, which are recognized in the country so that men who renege on any of these could be taken to task. The age at which girls should be married, Madam Caesar said, should also be enshrined in the country’s organic laws so that men who take advantage of underage girls could be brought to book.
“We are prepared to work for the referendum. We are prepared to walk the length and breadth of this country to mobilize our women to vote so that we can ensure that Liberian women have social, political and economic opportunities that they have been deprived of for so long, in this country,” she said.
The president of the Rural Women Development Association, Madam Kebeh Monger, pleaded with the President to ensure that rural women’s demands put forth for the referendum are considered in the final draft.

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