The president of Liberia Rural Women, Ma-Annie Kruah, has attributed the lack of women’s participation in both local and national politics to the lack of finance by most women desirous of political offices.
Ma Annie made the statement Tuesday, May 6, at the program making the official launched of the researched document by the Governance Commission (GC) and the Ministry of Gender & Development along with (UN Women ) held at the James Fromayan Conference Hall (NEC) on 9th Street Sinkor.
Ma Annie said a major impediment to women’s participation in governance and politics at the local level is their limited access to financial resources.
She noted that the costs of transport and childcare often hinder women from being able to attend planning meetings or serve in local government institutions.
She said without financial means, women who contest elections are unable to print promotional materials and cover logistics costs such as transport reach voters in town and villages during campaign periods.
“Analysis of women’s political participation in the 2011 elections conducted by MOGD and UNMIL describes how the campaigning for the elections was monetized, with constituents making demands on all candidates.
According to the analysis, female candidates observed that a majority of them lost 92 out of 101 female contestants for the legislature because they did not have the money to splash out,” she said.
She also mentioned that “No poor man or woman becomes a leader. Politics is about money. It helps you to get access to constituents, to get access to scattered villages, to provide refreshments when people attend rallies and meetings, to provide T-Shirts to supporters and to mobilize the youths,” she stressed.
The president of the Liberia Rural Women also attributed one of the causes of low female participation in elections to low educational levels and high illiteracy amongst women.
She said important efforts are being made to close the gender gap in school enrollment rates through Liberia’s universal primary education program and the enrolment ratio of girls to boys in the primary and secondary schools stand at 86 percent.
“For both men and women, urban residents are better educated than rural residents. The low attendance and complete rates also correspond with high rates of illiteracy with only 26 percent of rural women being literate compeered with 61 percent in urban areas.
High school drop-out rates have also been a key contributing factor to low levels of education and literacy among women and girls”, she explained.
She continued by saying “ The causes for school incompletion include early ,marriage, where by women on average, marry five years earlier than men, high rates of teenage pregnancy (32 percent) and lack of sensitization about the benefits of formal education.
The president said low educational and literacy levels constitute a major impediment to women’s participation in local governance.
She said without education, women struggle to compete for jobs which place them at a disadvantage economically in terms of lacking the necessary resources to compete in local politics.
“Women with low literacy also face challenges casting a vote in elections and participation in decision-making processes that are often dependent upon written documentation”
During consultation with rural women in Grand Cape Mount County, women expressed the concern that without adequate support to develop their capacities, even basic skills such as literacy, they would be limited in fully participating in the new public spaces that will be opened through decentralization,” she said.