— Says political parties are pivotal to women’s political participation and ascendancy to leadership in government
UN Women in partnership with the African Women Leaders Network Liberia Chapter (AWLN-Liberia) has embarked on a consultative meeting with representatives of the women’s wings of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) to discuss advocacy strategies for the approval of gender provisions in the electoral law amendments submitted by National Elections Commission (NEC) to the Legislature.
The meeting, which took place last Friday, July 3, at a local resort in Monrovia, was held under the theme, “Enhancing Women’s Participation in Governance: Focus on Electoral Law Reform and Integrating Women into Political Party Structures.”
UN Women, under the Women Political Empowerment and Leadership Project, with funding from the Government of Canada, provided support for the meeting. The meeting was the first of three meetings that will be held with leaders of women’s wings of political parties in Liberia.
The provisions in the law will facilitate an enabling environment for the participation of women in politics, including Senatorial elections to be held in December this year.
Marie Goreth Nizigama, UN Women Liberia, Country Representative, who spoke at a daylong event, indicated that political parties are pivotal to women’s political participation and ascendancy to leadership in government.
She highlighted that positioning women in political parties and strengthening their capacity to participation in politics begins with the electoral law reform process, describing the process as being of paramount importance.
Also speaking, Liberia’s former Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador Marjon V. Kamara, who heads the Liberia Women Leaders Network (LWLN) said, in her introductory statement that the consultation meeting is to enhance the LWLN’s effort to promote women’s participation and representation in political governance, something she said is a top priority for the LWLN in 2020.
She noted that her organization wants to see more women in governance space, noting that the upcoming senatorial election will serve as boosts towards their effort.
In special remark, Commissioner Josephine Kou Gaye, the National Elections Commission (NEC) oversight person on gender, told participants at the meeting that the NEC submitted to the 54th National Legislature in March 2020, an act to amend certain provisions of the new elections law of 1986, which will get the country closer to easing all barriers to ensure a fair play in conducting all electoral processes within the Republic of Liberia.
“One of the provisions will make it mandatory for the political parties to adhere to the 30 percent quota for women,” she said.
UN Women, under the Women Political Empowerment and Leadership Project, with funding from the Government of Canada, provided support for the meeting.
The meeting was the first of three meetings that will be held with leaders of women’s wings of political parties in Liberia.
AWLN Liberia, in partnership with NEC, will conduct two other consultative meetings with the Rainbow Alliance and the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), ahead of the public hearings on electoral law amendments. The provisions in the law will facilitate an enabling environment for the participation of women in politics.
In Liberia, women are currently underrepresented in politics as evidenced by the number of seats that women occupy in the national legislature.
There are currently nine women in the 73-member House of Representatives and only one in the 30-member Senate. The seat occupied by the lone female Senator is up for grabs in the midterm senatorial elections scheduled for December this year.
In appointed positions, there are three female cabinet ministers out of 19; nine female deputy ministers out of 48 and three female county superintendents out of 15.
It is from this background that AWLN, with support from UN Women, is strengthening its efforts to promote participation and representation of women in political governance.