-Josephine Francis Poised to clinch Tuesday polls, says CDC has underrepresented Montserrado County since 2006
The ascendancy of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the pinnacle of political authority gave many the impressions that women had finally been rescued from the marginalization they faced in the governance of the state, and to a larger extent, in leadership in the public-sphere.
Despite the immense and far-reaching power that Madam Sirleaf wielded in the country, and across the globe, she was unable to achieve the passage of a “Legacy Legislation” that would have ensured that women have exclusive rights to 30 percent of the 103 seats at the Legislature.
The enactment of that legislation would have been the beginning of a bigger dream to catapult women into leadership positions across every sphere of the Liberian society. But Madam Sirleaf’s inability to achieve this feat, in spite of her immense influence, might have been a setback to the country’s feminist movement.
Despite this shortfall, which is being considered a missed opportunity for women, few of them are making frantic efforts to climb the political ladder on their own, void of any legal backing or instrument.
One of such women is Madam Josephine Francis, the lone female candidate tomorrow’s Senatorial by-elections in Montserrado and Bong Counties. The candidate of the former governing Unity Party (UP) is vigorously navigating her way to the senate. She is one of seven candidates vying to fill the vacant seat left by the election of Senator George Weah as President of Liberia.
Tomorrow’s contest is a very tense one for Madam Francis as she sits up there as one of two tipped to claim victory at the polls. the UP candidate is galvanizing support from every sector of the society.
She was recently endorsed by the Liberty Party and the Alternative National Congress — two of the leading political parties in the country that have a very strong support among thousands of conscious voters.
In addition to that, Madam Francis currently has the support of the country’s feminist movement, whose stakeholders are endeavoring to ensure that women sit alongside men to discuss and implement the governance of the state.
In a recent interview with the Daily Observer, Madam Francis said, “I am the choice of Liberian women and so they have resolved to vote for me. They see me as that strong lady who can replace Madam Jewel Howard-Taylor, another very strong woman, who is the current Vice President.”
She spoke of her meeting with majority of the women groups in soliciting their support. “We are now in top gear to claim this victory. We have been giving the assurance that we will win, and indeed victory is ours,” she said.
Madam Francis, who considers herself the most formidable candidate, said Montserrado County, which is the political and economic seat of the country has been underrepresented by the past 12 years.
“Since 2006, we have had four senators in this great county, and all of these have come from the CDC, but what do we have to show for the stewardship? You and I know they got nothing to show. This is a shame,” she said.
She said in spite of its cries that there is no money and that the country is broke, the ruling party is fielding two sitting representatives in Bong and Montserrado Counties. “If these candidates are to emerge victorious, there will be vacancies created additional two by-elections,” Madam Francis said.
Madam Francis is a former Representative of Montserrado County District #1. She was defeated at the 2017 representatives elections, where she came fifth place among several other first time legislative aspirants. This has however created doubts in many people’s minds that if she could not retain a district seat, there might be little assurance that she will win the entire county.
But she shrugged off those negative talks, noting, “I left my footprint in the district, if not so, I would not have been contesting the Senatorial elections.”
“My district, which is the largest in the country, got the highest number of schools and health facilities, and other developmental initiatives during my reign. We were not only waiting on government, but brought in partners who helped us to do many of what we did,” Madam Francis said.
Prior to making her intention known to contest, Madam Francis said that she held consultations with all 23 candidates, who contested the district seat in last year’s elections. “I consulted all of them, and they embraced my idea, and pledged to give me their support. It was based on the outcomes of these consultations that I finally decided to contest, because I got the support of my people,” she said.
Madam Francis said she is a team player and as such, if she emerges victorious, will lobby with colleagues in the Upper House to establish instruments or initiatives that will build the capacities and ensure the empowerment of women, youth and other less fortunate groups within the society. “I will be the voice of the voiceless this time on a bigger stage. Our people need better lives, and these are the things we will be advocating for when we get in the senate,” she said.