As Liberians await the concurrence of the Liberian Senate on the passage of the 25% Women Quota Bill, three prominent selected women advocates have outlined several challenges or hitches that the bill is expected to face upon passage.
The women also proffered a way forward for successful implementation if concurred with by the Liberian Senate.
In a bid to enhance inclusive development through the involvement of women in the County Social Development Fund (CSDF), a group under the banner Women Coalition for County Development (WCCD) was launched in the middle part of last year.
Since the launch, the group has been partnering with some civil society actors including the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP), Liberia Women Media Action Committee (LIWOMAC) and others in support of the CSDF Standalone Bill passed by the House of Representatives.
Among other things, the Bill provides for a gender quota of 25 percent in favor of women, which is being described as a major milestone.
Accordingly, speaking at a videoconference held Monday, August 17, Madam Konah-Garlo stressed the issue of transparency and accountability as a major concern to deal with. According to her, a successful implementation of this bill, when passed into law, depends on vigorous sensitization.
“This is an important document, but if we are looking at the obstacles, one of the obstacles would be the issue of transparency. Besides that, we need to do a lot more on sensitization,” she stated.
“We have a lot of good opportunities. We have lots of CSOs and women networks as well as community radios. We also need to make use of the local government structure such as the various counties’ superintendents. We need to speak more about the bill so that people learn more about it. Let women be aware so that they can be in the know,” she intoned.
Madam Tennen Dalieh, one of the panelists, said that one of the major problems would be how to overcome legislators’ interest by depoliticizing the implementation of the CSDF.
“The current structure keeps women away. Women’s participation is one of the things to consider. Their interest is still linked to the political structure. We must have women that have no link to the power that be. A woman who is a prominent voice, a woman who gets to the table in terms of women representation, must be considered,” Tenneh noted.
Madam Dalieh recommends that one of the things to do is to take advantage of those leaderless women group in various communities.
“We need to take advantage of women who are not politically attached. When we take the main conversation from politics, we will take advantage of the leadership roles played by women in society,” she said.
Miatta Darwolo stressed the urgent need for more awareness across the country when it comes to the CSDF.
“The need generate the challenges to be brought to the fore during county sitting must be looked at. The lack of awareness is a major challenge in this. The women need to be informed and the media must play cardinal role in this and so we need to make serious use of the media,” she told the gathering.
“I agree with what my colleagues have said. We must use the media significantly. The group must do a lot around awareness by involving the media very much. It’s an existing opportunity to use the media,” Miatta added.
John Momo, Project Officer of LIWOMAC, disclosed that the WCCD is working across seven of Liberia’s 15 counties. Charles Tiah, a consultant on the project, said the policy brief is taking force.
“The would-be 25% quota should be translated into actual result. There has been progress, but we look forward to the concurrence by Senate. There are tremendous examples that we can explore. This bill focuses on seeing the vulnerability among women. It’s a small wing but we must appreciate it,” Tiah noted.
Executive Director of CEMESP, Malcolm W. Joseph, urged all Liberians, including the media, to join the advocacy towards the promotion of women’s cause.
“We are grateful to the consultant and all of you from the media and elsewhere who have come to this meeting. It is our hope that you all join us to advance the cause of women,” Mr. Joseph said.