MONROVIA-The Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) has expressed disappointment in President George Weah for vetoing the New Elections Law, section 4.5, that calls for 30% affirmative gender representation.
AFELL made the statement, through its President, Atty. Philomena Williams at the General Assembly of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA). The feminist organization said “Mr. President, AFELL attends this Assembly with heavy hearts, downhearted, and disappointed.”
Highlighting the theme for the convention “Beyond Rhetoric and impunity: Law, Governance and the 2023 elections – The basis for democratic necessity in Liberia”, the AFELL boss said her organization comes to this assembly disappointed in President George Manneh Weah veto of the New Elections Law, section 4.5, 30% affirmative gender representation.
“We read that our Chief feminist’s reason for the veto is that the country is just seven months away to the 2023 Legislative and Presidential Elections, as such certain changes in the elections law at a time so close would tend to send mixed signals to the electorates and present the potential to cause delays in elections processes,” Atty. Williams said after reading President Weah’s statement.
In a statement, the organization, through its President said “We are set aback and want you to rationalize the gigantic inequality gap of women in politics and Leadership in Liberia, and the need for complimentary laws that mirror and are in consonance with the constitution.”
“President Weah Veto the women 30% quota representation seven months to presidential and general elections. Therefore, President Weah, we strongly believe that if you had signed the 30% affirmative action for women representation, it clearly would not have delayed the election process as stated in your veto statement. The present cause of delays in the elections processes, we believe are due to multiplicity of reasons. To name a few- 1) is a single computer assigned at registration center to ensure timely and adequate registration, 2) the two hours shut down in the system at registration centers, and 3) the very poor awareness for voter registration. Mr. President, the veto of the 30% women representation law does not reflect the terminology of Feminist in Chief and/or He for she,” AFELL said.
The feminist organization recommends to the office of the Liberian Chief Executive a female legal advisor on women and children matters to enhance and positively address women and children empowerment and to ensure that the nomenclature of Feminist in Chief and/or He for she as assigned to beyond what it calls “Beyond Rhetoric” consistent with the theme of this Assembly.
Recently, similar law was passed in Sierra Leone and described as a landmark victory for women in that neighboring country.
Reflecting on that, the organization said “AFELL is delighted and congratulates our sisters, the women of Sierra Leone for a milestone achievement against disproportionate representation of employment in politics and leadership. Cognizant of the Constitutional provision under Chapter 111, Article 18, which states “All Liberian citizen shall have equal opportunity for work and employment regardless of sex, creed, religion, ethnic background, place of origin or political affiliation, and all shall be entitled to equal pay for equal work.” Similarly, the constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone, specific to employment rights Section 8 (3) (a) states that “the State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that – every citizen, without discrimination on any grounds whatsoever, shall have the opportunity for securing adequate means of livelihood as well as adequate opportunities to secure suitable employment.”
The statement added “To compliment the constitution and tackle gender inequality in Serra Leone, in January 2023, as close as five months to the general elections scheduled to be held in June 2023, Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio signed the 30% quota Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Act, referred to as a Landmark legislation. The Sierra Leonean President stated “We, men, have yet to see or acknowledge women’s rightful position fully, and this law will give us tools to correct that.” He further stated that now that we have a stable and peaceful Sierra Leone, we cannot afford to have women, who make up 52% of the population, not featuring prominently”. Like Serra Leone, according to Mr. Lawrence George, Acting Director, LISGIS, The De facto population in Liberia on Census Night, 10/11/2022…female population accounts for 49.6%. Statistic also reflects that gender inequality cuts over all circles of life in Liberia, and women are disproportionately represented in all areas of employment in politics and leadership.” Let us note that the President Bio signed the 30% quota affirmative act in January 2023, as close as five months to the general and presidential elections scheduled to be held in June 2023.”
In a related development, AFELL has recognized and deeply appreciated outgoing United States Ambassador Michael McCarthy for promoting human rights and endeavoring to end violence against women and children in Liberia.
“AFELL is saddened by the news of the imminent departure of
Ambassador McCarthy, a servant of the people who has exhibited the highest professional commitment to his mission in Liberia. Ambassador McCarthy worked with the executive, legislature, judiciary, and civil society organizations to ensure responsible performance and to promote and advance peace and security in our nation. He is quick to recognize and applaud the government in its achievements and does not hesitate or waver to condemn acts of corruption, violence, and other obstacles that impede and undermine development in Liberia. AFELL will definitely miss Ambassador McCarthy for impacting the lives of women and children in Liberia. We trust that your successor, Mark Christopher Toner, when and if confirmed will walk the path of goodwill and assist Liberia,” the organization said through its president.
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