30% not Guaranteed for 2014 Election

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Montserrado County District #1 Representative Josephine George Francis has said that the quest for many women to effectuate the 30 percent Gender Parity clause in the ensuing Special Senatorial Election is not guaranteed.

Women across the region are seeking 30 percent women participation in political institutions, meaning candidates names submitted to the Elections Commission by political parties must constitute at least “30 percent of women.”

At a one-day lunch meeting with civil society organizations Monday, May 26, in Monrovia, Rep. Francis stressed the importance of women involvement in political institutions and electoral matters.

She noted that despite said bill being reportedly passed by both chambers of the Legislature, the possibility of taking effect in October’s election is very unlikely.

She asserted that if women must be elevated, their capacity must be built at all levels to competewith their male counterparts.

“We’re not looking for opportunity,” she said. “It is our right to take center stage just as the men are at the moment. We are coming on stage to bring development to our people because we feel we’re very capable if we are given the working environment to work freely.”

She further stated that women are good policy makers; “women are strong decision makers who positively affect the nation.Women meet deadlines when working and believe me, when we are in public offices; we make the difference.”

She conceded that not much has been done in the area of publicity to educate more women across the country about the bill but indicated that finance remains “a major challenge for those driving the document.”

Relative to inquiry of ‘national women ownership’ on the bill, Madam Francis pointed out that the bill remains a national document that has the input of many rural women. “We need to have more publicity in the counties so as to let our rural women participate in every aspect of the document,” she declared.

The forum was held under the sponsorship of Women Legislative Caucus of Liberia and it brought together lawmakers, civil society and youth organizations including members of the Press Union of Liberia.

The intent of the forum was to brainstorm on the strategies in infusing the bill into ongoing National Constitutional Review process.

According to the bill, to ensure equity in representation of both genders in the governance of the nation and political parties, no political party list of elected officers and candidates for public office shall contain less than 30 percent and no more than 70 percent of single gender.

Critics maintained that the bill is unconstitutional and moreover, degraded the potential of women in Liberia.

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