By Togba-Nah Tipoteh
When there is longstanding and widespread poverty, with its attendant violence-orientation, in the midst of the male domination of women pushing the limitation of the participation of women in local and national decision making that affects them and designating women to the kitchen and bedroom instead of the Boardroom of decision-making, it is time to stand up for the participation of women. This is why this Commentary is about promoting the Participation of Women, Not The Domination of Women.
Imagine that there continues to be the push to get a Law calling for women to have only 30 percent of the seats in the National Legislature of Liberia! Do the callers for this Law realize that males would be non-existent if women did not exist. It takes a male and a female to produce the entire population!! Why should the domination of women continue with the limitation of women to 30 percent participation in the Legislature?
In the male domination context, there is call for qualification to get income-generating work. Given this call, why should women be limited to 30 percent employment in the cases where more than 30 percent of the women applicants are qualified to do the work? The logical extension of the call for qualification is that people who are qualified, no matter their gender or social standing, should get the work for which they applied.
On March 8, 2021, we celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD). This celebration must be transformed from mere words to real action. Look at what we have in Liberia. Half of the population of Liberia is female!! Females participate indispensably in the birth of males and females, the entire population!!. But the controlling system, dominated as it remains by males, continues to limit the participation of women in decision-making that affects the population. With 73 members in the House of Representatives, only 8 members are women!! With 30 members in the House of Senate, only 1 member is a woman.
In pushing for the 30 percent women participation, the pushers are in violation of the Constitution of Liberia, which provides for the Equal Rights of All, males and females. The constitutionally-based pushing must be for Equal Rights and whatever comes out comes out because the pushing is a process and Equal Rights will not be realized overnight. Let us remember that it was the constitutionally-based pushing that led to women becoming voters after the Second World War, when Liberia had attained “independence” since 1847!! Now, as Liberia is approaching the 174th year of “independence”, there are only 9 women in the National Legislature, which has 103 seats. This is glaring injustice!!!
Frequently, the Rwandan government is praised for having 55 percent of the members of the Rwandan Parliament being women. But these women were in the Parliament when the Rwandan government attempted to assassinate twice a Rwandan opposition leader, General Kayuba Nyamwasa, in South Africa in 2010 and assassinated another Rwandan opposition leader Colonel Patrick Karegeya, in South Africa in 2014. In Liberia, women were in the Legislature when the Decent Work Bill dragged on there for five years until much public pressure, led by Mrs. Elitha Manning, Founding President General of the Liberia Labor Congress, and me, got the bill passed into Law in 2015. Now, much work is being done to get the Law implemented. So, you see, the point is not just about getting women into the Legislature but getting women who can make the difference for the better, moving from the Domination of Women to the Participation of Women.
The Struggle Continues to get Justice for All.
Although there are some women in the National Legislature of Liberia, these women have to make the difference for the better! As it stands, the poverty situation is worsening with the Liberian Legislators having access to at least USD1,000 a day and their foreign friends in the commercial sector having access to at least USD2 million a day, while over 80 percent of the people of Liberian remain poor. having access to at most less than USD2 a day.
The difference for the better can be made in the National Legislature only when there is a FAIR electoral system in which only persons, men and women, get elected when they have good records, records of their respective actions over the years not in their own interest but in the interest of the voters, especially the poor voters.
With the western-oriented educational system in which Liberia remains a male-dominated society, there must be change for the better. This change for the better can come only through the use of knowledge to raise awareness among the people, males and females, in ways that motivate them to take non-violent actions to bring down the system of injustice and lift up the system of justice. Liberia can become better for All only when good persons are elected as local and national decision-makers. When good persons are elected, there will be the Participation of Women not the Domination of Women; there will be Value Addition, not Value Subtraction; there will be Appreciation not Depreciation of People; there will be Better Money Management, not More Money Printing, and there will be Transformation, not Contradiction, resulting in the sustained improvement in the living standards of the poor people in the system where Justice for All will prevail as All stand up and sing All Hail Liberia All Hail.