By: Laymah Kollie
MONROVIA-A cross-section of concerned Civil Society Actors, particularly women-led organizations, have expressed serious concerns over the status of the amended New Elections Law (NEL) on the “30% Gender Quota”.
The actors believe that the signing into Law of the NEL specifically, 4.5 will set legal foundations for addressing the historical under-representation of women at the National Legislature.
They made these observations, during a one-day dialogue organized by Medica-Liberia and POWER Liberia in collaboration with the ‘Coalition of Political Parties Women in Liberia (COPPWIL).
The one-day dialogue was funded by the UN Women, UNDP, and the Peace-building Fund.
The dialogue was focused on sustaining engagement with policymakers and stakeholders on the Status of the NEL on the desk of the Liberian President.
The CSOs’ concerns are arising seven months to the holding of the October 2023 Legislative and Presidential Elections in Liberia.
On Sept 17, 2022, the Legislature passed the NEL with specific fines (US$10,000) for violators of Section 4.5 and forwarded the same to President George Weah for signing into law and subsequent printing into handbills.
Section 4.5 (1C) of the New Elections Law mandates political parties to submit not less than 30% of either gender for their candidates’ listing to NEC.
During the Stakeholders’ Discussion, Civil Society Actors deliberated and highlighted the significance of political parties in ensuring that at least 30% (thirty percent) representation of either gender is achieved during the October 2023’s Elections.
“We want to know where exactly is the bill and what is the current status of the bill. “The election is nearing and it’s something we fear if this law is not passed, we will still have low representations of women at the Legislature. “We are worried, the signing of this bill is very important to us, it’s important to the country and the people of Liberia Madam Beatrice Newland, Executive Director of POWER Liberia noted.
“The law is a backbone that anyone can rely on to do the rightful thing. As it is stated the law is the law so we need this law to help us amplify our voices and create equal representation for all Sondah Geepea Wilson, Representative Aspirant of District#2 Nimba County.
“The low representation of women at the Legislature is something alarming, we need more women to legislate laws in the interest of women and girls and this is everyone’s fight. We want the appropriate persons to sign this bill so we can get it in the act as the election is right around the corner” Josephine Tengbeh, Girl for Change.
As part of the next plan of action, CSOs actors agreed to focus more on engagement with relevant stakeholders to ensure the bill intent is actualized due to the limited time to the October 2023 Elections.
The dialogue is part of a one-year project implemented by Medica Liberia and POWER Liberia in collaboration with the Coalition of Political Parties Women in Leadership. It focuses on advocacy to increase female political participation and the prevention of violence against women in elections and politics. (VAWIE/P).
Medica Liberia and POWER Liberia are two Women’s rights civil society organizations. They are engaged in peacebuilding, justice, and supporting all rights of women including political participation.