Women Want 15 Seats in Senate

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— 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.”

11 COMMENTS

  1. This quota thing is something else. While we agree women have been marginalized in many parts of Africa, Liberian women can brag they are an exception. Liberian women have shattered this proverbial glass ceiling many many years or decades ago, with the election and appointment of Liberian women at various stations in government up to the presidency. In fact, a gender ministry has been created as a testament in that regard. Not only that, but education is now prioritized for Liberians girls than boys.

    Liberian women, except for lack of interest in politics as a matter of choice, which situation is gradually changing, have equal opportunity and rights to vote or participate in politics without any gender bias. To now discount all those meritorious achievements and instead opt for the imposition of a quota system on us?

    This other demand must be a direct result of some international or outside influences. And what could be the rationale of wanting more or equal representation between women and men, as if it’ll make any difference anyway? After all we have the records to prove that irrespective of whether in pants or skirts, the performance index or lack thereof of our government officials are all the same, wanting!

    This quota system is surely perpendicular to the principle of equal opportunity for all, since it will stack the deck with preferential treatment for women over men. This is “affirmative action,” tantamount to reversed discrimination! To even imagine that educated women will settle for elections or selections based on their gender rather than their qualifications is unbelievable.

    Of our 73 senators, I believe 8 are women. Elected on their own merits, if I may add. I don’t know the figure of elected women representatives right now, but that too, should be appreciative. How about Liberian women continuing to make their case on the merit, independent of quota or preferential treatment as has been unfolding and in strides over the years, and let the voters decide who they really want in any election? Shaking my head in disbelief over this.

    • Liberia has fifteen counties; each constitutionally represented by two Senators. I suppose, it AMOUNTS to THIRTY(30) Senators. That’s the requirement of Liberia’s Supreme Law; “The Constitution”.

  2. Setting up a “QUOTA” of seats exclusively for women, in either of “Liberia’s Legislative Branches, is absolutely undemocratic and illegal. As many women as there may be, have every right to contest in any Legislative Election. Let the Liberian Voters(MEN and WOMEN) decide. May the best/most suitable candidate win. That’s what it’s all about; in a truth “DEMOCRACY”. One woman/man one vote. Let’s stop being childish and undemocratic. No “QUOTA”; for any GENDER. Please!

  3. Liberians always make waves.! Sometimes, positive waves. But the positive waves are sometimes a mixed bag. Example, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was elected as president. Johnson-Sirleaf’s election was historical. Second, after Johnson-Sirleaf’s term of service expired, the Liberians once again made a wave. This time around, a professional footballer named George Weah became elected in a heavily contested presidential election

    But Liberians sometimes make negative waves too. Example, when she became president, Johnson-Sirleaf approved of high salaries for lawmakers in Liberia than at any time in our country’s history. As a consequence of what Johnson-Sirleaf did, Liberia’s lawmakers earn more money annually than the United States of America!

    Another negative wave is about to be made. The political activist women of Liberia, are demanding a 15-seat senatorial set aside. I usually support up to 90-95% of women’s rights.
    A senatorial allocation of 15 seats for women is a little too bitter a pill to swallow. Oh no! Besides, it’s a negative wave. I do not advocate for negativity. If women are co-equals with men, so be it. But, a demand or request to set aside senatorial seats demeens the political significance of women.

  4. Uncle F. Hney:

    MLK Jr. said something in one of speeches that has stuck with me since. He said, ” Freedom is seldom given voluntarily by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed”. What does this have to do with the Liberian setting? You are very much aware that women are oppressed in our male dominated society and if they do not rise up to speak for themselves, they will always remain the down trodden. you know that very well. So for them to demand 15 seats in the senate is not a bad thing. I would even suggest that they advocate for more seats. But, at the same time, they should not expect any special favors just because they are females. I think they too, like their male counterparts, should work hard to achieve excellence in their various fields of endeavours

    You said, “I usually support up to 90-95% of women’s rights. Why not support 100% of women’s right?

    your fans still the meaning of the F in your name, Uncle Hney.

    Greetings

    • Mr. Moses,

      I agree with many others adequately reacted to this story or article on this string of opinions. The demands of the female activists and other concerns about the place of women at the table of our national leadership, as portrayed in this article, is a miscarriage of the history of women achievements in our national history. If anyone wants to be an advocate for gender equality in government, they should go somewhere else, but not in Liberia. The fact is that Liberia can boast of several first places in the world and as the number one country in all of Africa in female achievements in government and other public organizations. Do I need to conduct another contemporary Liberian history class in order to innumerate Liberia’s place in female achievements in Africa and the world?

      I will not do the reading public justice if I do not name, at least, few of the achievements of Liberian women: Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, first elected female president in Africa; Angie Brooks-Randolph, first African female President of the Security Council of the UN; Mary Antoinette Grimes Browne-Sherman, one of the first females to head the major higher institution of learning of her country in Africa as president; Geraldine Doe-Sheriff, the first female to head the major opposition political party in Liberia as Chairman of the National Executive Committee of CDC; two Liberian women winning the Nobel Peace Prize simultaneously, first of its kind in the world; two Liberian women holding the top two positions in the Liberian Government in two consecutive administrations, another first in the world! This has been the modus operandi in the Republic since the WVS Tubman Administration. Just my two cents.

      The establishment of the Ministry of Gender is a waste of tax payers’ money and a disservice to the equality clause for all Liberians in the national constitution. Do not get me wrong. I am an ardent supporter of women equality and rights under our constitution, no more, no less!

  5. Yap, Mr. Joe Moses
    You uttered two key words that caught my imagination. They are “special favors”, see the first paragraph. Other words like ” preferential treatment ” describe what you said. But Joe, in a multinational pluralistic society like the US where some people have been discriminated against because of skin color, place of origin or sexual orientation,, a preferential treatment is okay.
    However, since Liberia is a homogenous society unlike the US, there’s really no need to allocate senatorial seats for women. Right? Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf ran in a male-dominated society and won a couple of times. We’ve got some beautiful women. Let them get out there and charm us with their know-how. No set asides please!

    The mystery F
    My residence is femae-dominated. A vote was held recently… Four girls voted no. Two boys voted yes. See what women do sometimes

  6. Brother Anders,

    you have a way with words. Me, I dont. But from what I gathered from your excellent piece is that you agreed with me that women should be given more seats in our government. Again, you highlighted some of the achievements that women has performed in our society, and I could not agreed with you more. i sincerely believe that women would rise to the occasion if the playing field were made level for them. Yes, I dont doubt that.

    No, Uncle Hney, i do not agree with you that people should be given some kind of preferential treatment because they were discriminated against in some way, some form. I will give you a case in point. the blacks in the USA feel that because they were brought in america in captivity, so some special treatment should be meted out to them. and this is why today, you see that most of them refused to move from on the Welfare system and carve a path out for themselves. dont get me wrong, some of them are excelling and doing wonderful things with their lives and for the human race, but the majority of them wants, food stamps, free medical services, and rent money from the government. that is why the housing projects in america are filled with blacks and other minorities, because of this mindset.

    So, to make a long story short, our beautiful Liberian women should demand more seats in government but at the same time, being reminded that no special favors for them. Like Brother Anders mentioned, if other ladies have done it before, then today’s women can do it as well.

    Uncle F. Hney, you creating unnecessary tension amongst your many fans in and around Monrovia with your ardent refusal of divulging your name that starts with the F. Be warned, we will meet and we will come against you in a tactical manner that will catch you unawares. A word to the wise, they say, is sufficient

  7. Hon. Joe Moses,
    For the most part, African Americans have made tremendous progress in America. And yes, more progress is still being made by African Americans. Considering what they’ve been through, I give them credit. You’re right about “some” things that “some” African Americans have failed to do. But, a very good number of African Americans are not lazy.

    (I’d like you and all readers to check out the African Diaspora. You will uncover the names of African and African American mathematicians, physicists, inventors, etc.)

    Joe, there was a time when Ghanaians, Nigerians, Guineans and Lebanese business people did business in Liberia than the Liberian people. It was thought and believed that the Liberian people were lazy or stupid. Frankly, the “screw up” governments we’ve had in the past were unintelligent. During the last 20 years, Liberians have become street smart and business smart. Things are changing.

    I used the scenario above to inform you about African Americans. I know quite a bit about African Americans. More years in America than in Liberia.

    Preferential treatment didn’t come about because of black folk. For instance, when the baby boomers returned home from WW2, the GI bill came about as a way to help the American soldiers adjust in the American society. But although black people contributed to the defeat of Nazism, when they came home from the war theaters, they were denied the GI bill assistance than their white counterparts.

    The African American issue needs to be fully understood.

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