MRU Women Seek Equal Opportunity

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The group of MRU Women at the Chiefs Conference in Ganta.

Six women representing three Mano River Union (MRU) countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone, and the Ivory Coast) say they don’t have equal opportunities in their countries as compared with their colleagues in Liberia.

On June 6, the six women from the three MRU countries told the Daily Observer at the close of the Chiefs Conference in Ganta that the opportunity Liberian women enjoy with their male counterparts does not exist in other countries.

“We are not opportune with our male counterparts, compared to Liberia, where women are serving as chiefs, paramount chiefs, clan chiefs as well as commissioners,” said Zeinab Traore of Guinea.

She said what they have seen in Liberia is quite different from what is happening in their countries; therefore, they want to emulate Liberia’s example.

Victoria Johnson, a resident of Kiondu, Sierra Leone and who also formed part of the delegation, said she was surprised to see women serving as town and clan chiefs in Liberia.

“It is not possible to become a town chief in Sierra Leone and when you request for it, the men will tell you point blank, ‘no’, or join the men society before becoming town chiefs,” she said.

“What we are seeing in Liberia is totally different from what is happening in my home country, Ivory Coast,” said Doh Anne Stephane, an Ivorian delegate residing in the town of Danané.

They called on Liberian women through Madam Setta Fofana Saah of the National Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia to organize the same festival which was held in Monrovia, known as “Kukatornon,” meaning “We are one” in their respective countries.

Ms. Zeinab Traore explained that women in local leadership will help boost security, because women are the first point of contact and there are some areas that men cannot go so easily.

“We are asking our governments, ECOWAS, and the Mano River Union to imitate Liberia that has given equal opportunity to their women,” they said.

In January this year, the Carter Center organized a sub-regional conference for women from Mano River Union countries in Ganta, where a resolution was reached.

At the just ended chiefs’ conference in Ganta on June 6, the Mano River women presented copies of the January Conference resolution to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Varney Sirleaf, to be delivered to President Weah.

“The reason for presenting our January resolution to the Minister of Internal Affairs at this conference is that we do not have the opportunity to reach all the head of states of this region; so when it reaches the President, he will easily distribute it among his colleagues,” said Setta Fofana Saah, General Coordinator, National Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia.

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