— Petition lawmakers to include proposition in the pending referendum
Over 150 women from Civil Society Organizations (CSO) across the country have stormed the Capitol Building in protest against the passage of the Gender Parity Bill and its inclusion as a constitutional proposition for the pending referendum.
The women, known as ‘Liberian Women from CSOs,’ with strong-worded placards against lawmakers, voiced their petition on Monday to the 54th Legislature.
Madam Maima O. Robinson of the Women against Female Genital Mutilation (WAFGEM) said that the pending concurrence of the House of Representatives and the Senate, according to reports from the Daily Observer, prompted the ‘Liberian Women from CSOs’ to petition the 54th Legislature to provide additional representative seats for female candidates.
President George M. Weah, during the recent Presidential-Legislative Retreat, submitted eight propositions to the Legislature to amend certain sections of the 1986 Constitution, including Article 80 of the Constitution to provide for additional representative seats for female candidates.
The President’s suggested amendment, Article 80 (f), said: “Notwithstanding Article 11 of this Constitution, in order to address historical imbalances and gender inequality experienced by the female population, one female constituency seat shall be established and reserved exclusively for women representatives in each county. Only female members of political parties shall qualify to contest as candidates for the Female Constituency seats. The female candidate contesting for such seat and who obtains the highest votes in the county shall be elected for a term of five (5) years.”
It furthered that: “In the event of a vacancy of a Female Constituency seat in the Legislature caused by death, resignation, expulsion or otherwise, the presiding officer of the House of Representatives shall within thirty days notify the political party on whose ticket the female representative contested to fill the vacancy; provided that where such vacancy occurs within ninety days prior to the holding of general elections, the filling of the vacancy shall await the holding of such general elections.”
It added that “Any Female Constituency Representative who resigns or is expelled from the political party on whose ticket she won the election, that representative shall forfeit the Female Constituency seat of that county, thereby creating a vacancy. The said political party shall have the right to fill the vacancy created by such resignation or expulsion within thirty days following the notification to the presiding officer of the House of Representatives provided that, where such vacancy occurs within ninety days prior to the holding of general elections, the filling of the vacancy shall await the holding of such general elections.”
However, the Senate passed three of the eight propositions, including the Dual Citizenship Clause (Article 28), Reduction of Tenure of the President, Vice President, and members of the Legislature (Articles 46, 47, 48, 49 & 50) and the Date of Election (Article 83 (a) & (c).
Madam Rose Toweh of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), on behalf of the ‘Liberian Women from CSOs,’ read the petition. Montserrado County District #2 Representative Jimmy Smith, who is also the House’s Chairman on Defense, received the petition.
In the petition submitted on Monday, Madam Tweh petitioned the Legislature to amend Article 80 to provide additional seats for marginalized groups, to include women, persons living with disabilities and youths.
“An additional 15 seats for women in the Senate as per political subdivisions; only female members of political parties shall qualify to contest as candidates for the 15 additional seats. The winners of said seats shall be elected for a term of seven years,” the petition said.
Madam Tweh added, “An additional four specialized seats in the House of Representatives for the elections of two seats for persons living with disabilities, to include one male and one female and two seats for the youth between the ages 18 to 24, to include one male and one female.”