Traditional women on Tuesday, July 5, honored and certificated President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for “maintaining peace and stability in the country,” particularly for giving women the ‘voice’ to speak and participate in issues of national interest, while describing themselves as the foundation of any society.
The honoring and certification ceremony was performed in the auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an acknowledgement of what the women termed, “making them to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with men as compared to the past when they were inferior to men in Liberia,” an Executive Mansion press release said.
President Sirleaf, while accepting the honor, said she was happy that those who planned and bestowed the honor on her did so at their own volition at a program planned in their own hearts and heads, to avoid speculations that she called the “Traditional Women together and paid them to bestow such an honor on her.”
She expressed gratitude to the women, noting that it is the traditional women who have come together, “because our traditional people are the foundation of any society.”
President Sirleaf paid tribute to some of the women who have been in the capital for over a week, although she did not know that they were planning to honor her.
She praised them for their sacrifice using their own money to buy some of the gifts they brought to her, and for their commitment to sponsor their travel to Monrovia from other parts of the country.
The President said she was even surprised that the women made their own uniforms, to properly identify them, whereas in the past people would pay for such special recognition.
President Sirleaf was elated over the honor, and added: “I was taken by complete surprise, because the Traditional Women through the National Traditional Council of Liberia (NTCL) did not provide prior information regarding the honor.”
However, the President accepted the recognition in good faith, “because our tradition constitutes the foundation of any society.”
She said in the last 10 years of her Presidency, she along with members of the Traditional Women of Liberia and the NTCL have all been encouraged by working together for the rebuilding processes of Liberia.
President Sirleaf used to the occasion to inform the women that during her next nationwide tour, she will be visiting some of the newly constructed County Service Centers, and would like to see the women and feel their presence around her and have a heart-to-heart talk with them.
Earlier, Chief Zanzan Karwor, NTCL head, said in the past, an honoree bought everything to make such a program successful, thereby creating the impression that the honor came from the people’s hearts.
“Today, this is not the kind of honor that we are witnessing as it is a real honor because the women made the sacrifice and paid to realize everything befitting this honor,” he said.
For her part, Bong County Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, Chairperson of the Women’s Legislative Caucus, said the name “Ellen Johnson Sirleaf” will remain forever in the country’s history as a respected leader.
She said President Sirleaf holds a very special place in the hearts of women in Liberia, Africa and across the world. She said President Sirleaf is indeed worthy of the women’s honor and God will grant her long life to see her legacy and impact on the women.
The program was graced by senior government officials including, female legislators and other traditional leaders.
President Sirleaf said that in Liberia today, the number of girls enrolling in private and public schools in the country is almost becoming equal to the number of boys. However, she said despite that achievement, there were still more girls out of school who need to be encouraged to enroll.
She said in order to achieve this, more schools need to be built in places where they are accessible, where the bad roads or the lack of roads don’t hinder the girls from attending school, adding: “there is a need to connect such places with improved roads to enable children in these parts of the country to have access to education.”