Ahead of the 2017 Presidential and Legislative elections, a group of women’s rights activists and women from the various political parties have re-launched the Coalition of Women of Political Parties in Liberia, a campaign to address the shortage of women in the Legislature. Their goal is to win at least 40 seats.
Over the weekend, in the rotunda of the Capitol Building, Montserrado County Senior Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff said “there will never be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers.”
Speaking during the installation and re-launching program of the organization, Senator Doe-Sheriff said, “I urged you to let the size of your dreams always exceed your current capacity to achieve them because if your dream does not scare you they are not big enough.”
The program was attended by over 1,500 women comprising the women leadership from the 22 registered political parties and over 50 female legislative aspirants of the 15 counties and districts.
Sen. Doe-Sheriff, who has been in the Legislature since 2006, encouraged the women declaring: “We deserve the best.”
She warned them saying, “Friends and family will be the first to talk you out of your dream. Most of the people that have no vision, no goals, no objectives, and no dreams will wake up every day to talk about your dreams. When people say you can’t do this then you will prove them wrong by standing up.
“They can’t slow you down rather you will be challenged by their negativism. No one has the right to stop you. You can be what you want to be. No matter how good you are today, they will want to bring you down. Even if you are having a bad day, they want to bring you lower. But don’t quit, don’t give up, the sky is the limit.”
Montserrado County District #1 Rep. Josephine George Francis installed the newly elected officers, who include Nora Finda Bundoo, President, Georgia Gage, Vice President/Administration and Rozetta Jone, Vice President/Operations.
Others are Mary Johnson, National Secretary General, Willette Lysander, Assistant National Secretary General, Joyce Mensa, Financial Secretary, Grace Yates, Treasurer and Martha Weah, Chaplain. They will be in office for six-year terms.
President Bundoo said the organization will encourage more women to participate in the pending elections as candidates and voters and promised better results as compared to the last two elections. Bundoo herself is eyeing the seat of Montserrado County District # 8.
“To achieve our objective, the organization will form county campaign teams and we will divide them into districts to vigorously campaign for female candidates against their male counterparts,” an official said.
She added: “We will be seeking funding from President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, UN Women and other international women’s rights organizations.”
Meanwhile, besides the women organizing to take more seats in the Legislature, the Affirmative Action for Equal Participation and Representation bill is still before the Legislature awaiting a review by Conference Committees from both Houses to harmonize the laws.
Of the 21 Special Legislative Constituencies for which an additional 21 members of the House of Representatives shall be elected, 15 seats are for women and 3 seats each for youth and persons living with disabilities.
The Senate has endorsed the establishment of the 21Special Legislative Constituencies calling for the occupier of each of the three seats to be a woman.
The House of Representatives concurred with the Senate but approved the creation of seven Special Legislative Constituencies for which another seven members of the House of Representatives would be elected – 5 women, one seat each for youth and persons living with disability, respectively.
The Affirmative Action bill has suffered many setbacks and has been lingering in the Legislature since 2010.