At a special introductory event held for female senatorial candidates ahead of the December 8, 2020 midterm senatorial elections, the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) Liberia Chapter, in collaboration with the United Nations Women, have pledged to support female candidates contesting in the planned election as a means of increasing women’s participation at the Legislature.
The introductory event, which brought together 14 of the twenty female senatorial aspirants that were certificated by the National Election Commission (NEC), was held under the theme, “Women political participation and representation is crucial-the time is now.”
Out of the 118 candidates that NEC has certificated to contest the December 8 Senatorial election, only 20 of them are women, barely 17 percent.
United Nations Women (UN Women) promised to support the senatorial quests of 17 of the 20 women candidates, including the only female Senator at the Legislature, Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence of Grand Bassa County, as well as her challenger, Magdalene Harris of Grand Bassa County; Dorothy Toomann of Bong County; Botoe Kanneh of Gbarpolu county; Hawa Corneh Borpleh of Grand Cape Mont County; and Jebeh Dekel Brown of Grand Cape Mont County.
Also, on the list of the UN Women are Felicia Duncan, Grand Gedeh County; Beatrice Wonnah Johnsson, Grand Gedeh County; Edith Gongloe-Weh, Nimba County; Grace Scotland-Briama, Sinoe County; Rosalind Sneh, Grand Kru County; Janjay Bloh, (Rivercess County); Envangeline Israel King, Montserrado County; Siah Jarmie Tandanpolie, Montserrado County; Cecilia Siaway Teah, Montserrado County; Mariamu Beyan Fofana, Lofa County; Dedeh Nohr Jones, Lofa County; Julie Fatorma Wiah, Lofa County; and Princess S. Macauley, Margibi County.
UN Women Country Representative, Marie Goreth Nizigama, who pledged the institution’s support to women candidates, said in her speech delivered via zoom, that considering the rush for the Senate; there may be no woman if none of the 17 female aspirants wins in the pending elections.
Madam Nizigama told participants that December 8 must sound like judgment day, adding that it behooves the UN to pay keen attention to these polls, ensuring that women emerge victoriously.
She said the national chapter of the African Women Leaders Network organized the meeting with the objective to meet the candidates and understand their actual needs, adding that “There are many challenges that we cannot address in silos excepted we put all hands on deck.”
Madam Nizigama said, “While no country has achieved gender equality, it is now time to accelerate efforts with added momentum for the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in these difficult times.”
According to her, the Beijing Platform of Action, which holds a special meaning for all, lays emphasis on enhancing political representation and participation of women. “And our ‘ask’ for today is having 50% women in all decision-making levels.”
She disclosed that UN Women has an elaborate communication plan underway as well as technical support for these women with the hope to provide other strategic support as may be articulated in addition to the much-needed high-level advocacy for success in these polls.
Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, Liberty Party Political leader, asked the people of Grand Bassa County to retain her because she has been tested and has proven more results, despite being the “only woman left in the lion’s den.”
She said her re-election cannot be overemphasized because she is a strong floor fighter amongst 29 men in the Liberian Senate, making decisions for women and disadvantaged populations.
“I have been pushing women issues talking about SGBV and good governance, and corruption has been strongly fought with one woman. That is why we need more women to be voted,” Sen. Karnga-Lawrence said.
Senator Karnga-Lawrence branded women as “Caring leaders” who deserve the space at the political table to make decisions with the men that will impact the nation.
Ambassador Marjon Kamara, Co-Chair, AWLN Liberia Chapter, in an overview statement, acknowledged the confidence and courage that the women have demonstrated in joining the senatorial race.
Amb. Kamara told the women candidates to add value in any undertaking; be it political or social. “We must make that to happen,” she said, hoping that participants will leave fully convinced of the idea that “women not supporting women is linked to the low women representation in the Legislature.”
She added: “The situation in the Liberian Senate, where there is only one woman out of 30 members, has banned women voices.”
Amb. Kamara said AWLN was established in 2017 as a joint initiative of the African Union and UN Women with support from the Federal Republic of Germany. The overarching objective of AWLN is to support the empowerment of African women economically, financially, and politically so that they are able to contribute meaningfully to the transformation of our continent.
She added that AWLN has established national chapters in 25 African countries including Liberia. The Liberian chapter was officially launched in Monrovia in December 2019 to ensure the active promotion of women’s participation and representation in political governance. This year’s election, she said, would be the organization’s first priority.