As part of efforts to ensure that women, youth and people with disabilities have increased opportunities to participate in national leadership, the Women Legislative Caucus has crafted a Bill seeking to establish twenty one (21) additional seats in the House of Representatives.
The Bill, titled “The Equitable Participation and Representation Act of 2016,” was concluded during a forum in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, in November last year.
Sen. Jewel Howard Taylor, who is the Chairperson of the Women Caucus, said the proposed law will be introduced during the 5th Session of the 53rd Legislature and that members of the Caucus are lobbying with their male counterparts to ensure that it is enacted into law.
A copy of the draft law is in the possession of the Daily Observer. When enacted through legislation, the law will establish 21 special legislative constituencies in addition to the already 73 seats in the House of Representatives, which means there will be 94 members in the House and 30 in the Senate.
Out of the 21 new seats, 15 seats will be exclusively allotted to women, with one seat from each county; three seats will be to youth and three allotted to persons with disabilities.
According to Section I 1.2, “Individuals seeking for election to the House of Representatives within the Special Legislative Constituencies shall be subjected to the eligibility criteria for said positions as set forth in the Constitution; and once elected, shall also enjoy the tenure, rights, privileges and benefits accorded members of the House of Representatives as enshrined in the Constitution, Statutes and Laws of Liberia.”
A local electoral college of women, youth and persons with disabilities will be created for the sole purpose of electing designated representatives through their various national organizations.
Moreover, the bill seeks to mandate the President of Liberia to ensure that a minimum of 30% of all presidential appointees are women in accordance with Section 6 6.1 of the proposed law.