Amidst low representation of female lawmakers at the National Legislature, the president of the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY), Amos Williams, has called for affirmative actions that will ensure at least 30 percent of women’s representation in the governing process of the country.
Mr. Williams made the assertion on February 2, 2020, during a one-day interactive engagement with a cross-section of citizens at the Jamaica Road youth center on the Bushrod Island. Mr. Williams indicated that the Liberian Senate currently has only one female lawmaker representing the entire women and of Liberia; something he says represents underrepresentation as far as equity is concerned.
Of the 103 members of the Legislature, only11 of them are females, a situation that has claimed the attention of several advocacy groups including the Crusaders for Peace, National Union of the Disable and the Catholic Justice for Peace Commission (JPC).
“To increase women representation, we can provide money to these women to help engage in campaign activities. We can also work with political parties to circumvent women’s wing situation and provide them the space to even become chairpersons or secretary-generals of parties,” Mr. Williams said.
Liberia Elections Observation Network (LEON), in collaboration with The Carter Center and Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY), has begun an aggressive campaign to bring to realization passage of the bill seeking 30% representation of women in the political and governance process. This bill has lingered in the Legislature for years now.
Williams said there is a need for political parties to create a level playing field that gives women the opportunity to equally participate. He then called on political parties to ensure that women are given 30% in the party’s structure, which will give them the space to seek representation at the Legislature.
“Evidence has proven that women in politics and parliament have given more results than men because they tend to be conscious of issues that affect people generally. They also make better laws according to statistics from countries, including Rwanda,” Mr. Williams said.
He continued: “if women are given key positions in political parties, it’s a way of giving them the chance to contest. The late Geraldine Doe-Sheriff was a chairperson of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and later became Senator of Montserrado County. So, giving women positions in the parties will bring them to the limelight.”
According to him, there is a need for political parties to ensure that 30% of their candidates are women or face rejection by authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC).
He said there’s a need to help build the capacity of Liberian women across the country to ensure that they are prepared to contest elected posts.
Madam Sarah K. Jallah, a resident of Jamaica Road community, is also advocating for illiterate women who have an interest in politics to be given the opportunity to hold positions in parties and at the level of the Legislature.
“If I am a woman but not educated and want to be a politician, how do I make or secure a space to better myself?” Madam Jallah asked.
Madam Massa Kiawu, from the same community, also questioned The Carter Center and FLY on initiatives available that are aimed at helping Liberian women in vying for political seats.
“If I’m educated and wanting to be a member of the parliament, but financially there’s no support. How can I go about raising funds to support my activities to represent the people of Liberia at the Legislature,” Madam Kiawu asked organizers dialogue?
According to Madam Kiawu, without financial support, it would be very impossible to move ahead, stating “there’s a need for political parties and the international community to ensure that women are empowered.”
Madam Kiawu added, “I want to be a Representative, but without money, I wouldn’t make it. We want to know or understand what FLY and The Carter Center are doing to empower or support the women of Liberia.”
Though concerns raised by the women especially on financial empowerment remain unaddressed, Sammitta B. Entsua, a staff of the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY), emphasized the need to empower Liberian women in order to have full representation at the national Legislature.