Meima Sirleaf-Karneh, the Assistant Minister for Policy, Planning and Research at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, is calling for the setting up of a platform for the post-Ellen Era in the political governance of Liberia.
According to her, the platform will not only showcase the achievements and legacy of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf but will also make women visible in the political governance of the country, instead of them being relegated to the back after Sirleaf leaves the scene in January 2018.
She made the call when she served as a proxy for Gender Minister Julia Duncan Cassell at the start of a three-day workshop that seeks to set the stage for a feminist agenda in the country.
Bringing together together feminists, women’s rights advocates, female aspirants in the 2017 elections, and representatives of some female-focused groups the workshop, was conducted by the Liberian-owned Community Healthcare with funding from Urgent Action Fund Africa, a women’s human rights organization.
The Assistant Gender Minister said to succeed in making the voices of women continuously heard, female politicians should attach themselves to political parties. She added that, those parties should include young women with potential in the political process in order to change the political space and consolidate the gains of women in the country.
“Political governance is where decisions are made so we need to seriously get into the political space; and one of the ways to do that is to join political parties as a way of sustaining the gains we have made,” she stressed.
For her part, the executive director of Community Healthcare, Naomi Tulay-Solanke, said the workshop seeks to bring issues affecting women, people with disability, marginalized groups, and those in excluded communities, to the government’s attention.
She revealed that issues identified at the end of the workshop will be forwarded to the next leadership of the country for consideration and/or implementation.
The Community Healthcare executive director hailed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for ably representing Liberian women and women across the world as Liberia’s and Africa’s first female president, and for setting the stage for the promotion of women’s agenda.
She has meanwhile described the Feminist Agenda Setting as a space in which “every person is respected and allowed to make decisions of their own and not society prevailing on them or deciding for them.”
Solanke said the occasion, which is the first of its kind in the country, disregards the sexuality, gender, culture, age, or color of individuals, but shows equal respect for everyone “no matter who they are.”
She added that the feminist space provides protection for all people, whether transgender, gay, or sex worker, “and does not judge anyone for the way they have decided to use their body.”
Several topics, including locating women and exploring their contexts, transitional justice, women’s political participation and elections, rethinking and strategizing on new steps, and many others, were discussed.