Sister AID Liberia Commends House of Representatives for Passage of New Elections Law

Sister AID Liberia

Sister AID Liberia (SALI) highly commends the House of Representatives of the Republic of Liberia for passing the amended New Elections Law with significant modification of the sole gender-sensitive Section 4.5 and with additional counts. 

Previously, section 4.5 and related counts of the New Elections Law were discriminatory.  The recently amended section 4.5 now states: “A list of candidates submitted to the Commission for an election shall have no less than 30 percent of the candidates from each gender.” 

The added counts firmly state that “a political party or coalition shall have at least one-woman contestant for the primary at the convention for each constituency it nominates a candidate” and “a political party or coalition whose list from its convention or primary does not satisfy the required quota for gender, such list shall be rejected by the NEC upon submission…”. 

“Special thanks to the Women Legislative Caucus and the women NGOs for persistently leading advocacy efforts for these changes,” SALI said in a statement. “SALI qualifies that these amended provisions are more gender-responsive and encourages the Senate to speedily concur for the enactment of the Law.

“We observe that while the numerical utility of the Amended New Elections Law is not sufficient to ensure gender parity/equality in political contests, the amended Section 4.5 and the attending counts present influencing opportunities for women’s political empowerment and leadership in Liberia. 

“Despite accounting for half of the population, women are under-represented in public office and key decision-making positions. This underrepresentation is largely responsible for public policies with little or no consideration for women’s needs and concerns.  In Liberia, women occupy just 11 of the 103 seats in the Legislature. Overall, the percentage of women in the Legislature has steadily declined since 2006: falling to 14 percent in 2011, 12 percent in 2014, 11 percent in 2017, and 10 percent in 2021.  In the Cabinet, women make up 21 percent (4/19); 6% in local government (general town chiefs to county superintendents). 

“Socio-cultural, ideological, political, and economic barriers to women’s political representation and leadership in governance are punctuated by unequal power relationships at multi-levels,” the organization added. “This situation emphasizes the urgent need for the House of Senate to swiftly concur with the r House of Representatives for the enactment of the Amended Law. SALI is committed to working with women’s rights and like-minded organizations in this regard.”

Meanwhile, on the supply side, Sister AID Liberia, with funding from the Canadian Government and support of UN WOMEN, currently operates a Women Political Empowerment and Leadership Clinic located in the Panama Lodge, Menitama Junction, RIA Highway, Paynesville City. The Clinic is operated as a ‘stand-alone’ intervention and mainly targets women politicians and leaders.  Since October 2021, 60 women politicians, including women aspirants/candidates and their campaign teams have been equipped at the Clinic in scarce areas such as constituency assessment and strategy-making, fundraising and resource development, campaign team staffing and high-performance systems, partnership, and alliance-building, as well as campaign operations and management and electorate engagement and influencing. 

SALI is a National Non-Governmental Organization that advances women’s leadership and capacity building, promotes women’s rights and empowerment, conducts research and policy engagements, and implements climate justice interventions. “Again, we highly commend the House of Representatives and encourage the House of Senate to swiftly concur with its legislative counterpart for the timely enactment of the New Elections Law ahead to 2023 presidential and general elections,” the organization said, adding: “for the Interest of Girls and Women in Liberia!”