A forum intended to seek the welfare of and galvanize support for Liberian women with political ambitions, has been launched by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She called on women to rally amongst themselves and support each other to ensure, through every positive means, that their voices are heard in the larger society.
President Sirleaf, who launched the forum, said Liberian women and Liberians in general should see the need to support female candidates in elections in order to provide equity and fairness that has been denied them since the independence of the Liberian state.
The forum, known as Liberia Women National Political Forum (LWNPF), was established since 2005, but was officially re-launched Thursday, April 9, at the Monrovia City Hall to rejuvenate the spirit and re-galvanize support for women’s political activities.
LWNPF aims to serve as an umbrella for women in politics and active female members of political parties; women organizations that are involved in the advocacy of women’s rights to equal opportunities and participation in political processes.
LWNPF was organized in 2005 by the Women Legislative Caucus of the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA), the Women NGOs Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL), the Coalition of Political Parties Women in Liberia (COPPWIL), the Liberian Women Initiative (LWI) and the Liberia Rural Women Association of Liberia (LIRWA).
The establishment of the forum was in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender and Development. Its aim is to have more women in politics and influential positions, especially in the national legislature where laws that affect the live of the people are made
This move to have the forum re-launched comes after women were unable to build on their successes in the 2005 general and presidential elections and lost most of their seats in the legislature to their male counterparts in 2011.
President Sirleaf said Liberian women have come a long way in making their presence on the political scene felt, and it is now time that they consolidate all of their efforts they have made so their objectives can be achieved.
“Now is the time for us to begin seeking the equality and fairness we have been yearning for so long. It is time to empower ourselves and begin to see more women in leadership,”
She said that women would never take to the streets, holding up placards and demonstrating, but would rather use the proper channels to have their plans carried out.
LWNPF Chairperson, Madam Ruth Caesar, said that the organization is a strategy that is to ensure that more female political candidates are successful in up-coming elections.
She said though women represent 49 percent of the Liberian population, they have been kept in the background for so long and only been given kitchens as offices and the rearing of children as their major job.
Gender and Development Minister Julia Duncan Cassell, said that women coming together to have their voices heard is the best thing they can do for themselves and their children.
She expressed her disappointment over the lack of support by other prominent women to the process, especially her female cabinet colleagues; none of whom was at the event.
The membership of the Forum has expanded under the legal framework of its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to a considerable number.
Some of the success of the LWNPF has been the production of the Liberian women’s political manifesto, which is considered as Liberian women’s most important political document.