The UN Women’s organization in Liberia yesterday signed a number of project cooperation agreements (PCAs) with three of the country’s women organizations to galvanize energy and other resources to support female candidates participating in the ensuing elections.
Madam Marie Goreth Nizigama, country representative, said “In UN Women’s work as the global champion for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, we work with civil society organizations through partnerships, because it drives local ownership and enhances national capacity to deliver on national priorities.”
“In the current context, it will contribute to enhancing participation of women in the October elections as candidates, accountability agents, active participants in monitoring and mitigating electoral violence, and most importantly as voters,” Madam Nizigama said.
She observed that despite the considerable investments in the area of women’s political participation, the number of women in political leadership and the governance system is still far below global benchmarks. “Women remain underrepresented in this country’s governance structure. Women make up just 11.65 percent of a total 103 members of the legislature,” she said, noting that at the local level, women make up only 6 percent (130 positions) of a total number of 2,220 available local government positions, ranging from superintendents to town chiefs.
Nizigama said with women constituting almost half of the voting population, the ensuing elections present a golden moment for Liberian women and girls to rise and make their voices count through their participation in the electoral process. “It is important also to highlight the pivotal role of all stakeholders, especially the media, to ensure that the voices of women are heard and respected, and that their issues remain at the forefront of the electoral process and post election period.
I reaffirm that the UN values the contributions of the media and civil society through the actions they undertake to bridge the gender gap and promote the rights of women and girls in Liberia,” Nizigama said.
She pledged that UN Women will continue to value its partnership with CSOs and other actors, including women structures at the community level, to ensure that women are actively engaged in the upcoming elections.
Providing technical support to women leaders, including those contesting for elected offices, building their skills for campaigning, crafting strategic issues and their leadership skills are key objectives they seek to achieve. Other initiatives are conducting civic and voters’ education through engagements at community, sub-national and national levels, mobilizing community and national support for women candidates and voters, monitoring media coverage, and the dissemination of key messages in support of women’s participation and leadership.
Madam Ruth Caesar, head of the Liberian Women’s Political Forum, said the hands of Liberian women are gradually becoming free by their willingness to participate in the country’s governance. “We are grateful to the UN Women and pray that at least 25 to 30 of the over a hundred women contesting these elections succeed to form part of the 54th Legislature,” Madam Caesar said.
The head of the Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL), Madam Marpue Speare, described the exercise as “good,” because it will ensure that men and women’s equality becomes a reality. “Please, fellow women, let us do something good to put smiles on the faces of our local and international partners as we go to elections,” Madam Speare said.
She admonished the women to continue working for peace during and after the elections. Teecee Bolay of the New Narratives also called on the media to be cautious as it reports elections related issues. “You have the power to set the agenda and if it is bad, it will certainly harm all of us. Make the voices of women heard when it is vital,” Bolay said. She thanked UN Women for identifying with Liberian women as they pursue their political dreams.