Antony Facia Harris, IVLP Impact 2023 Awardee and International Woman of Courage 2022, has made a compelling call to women not to tolerate any form of violence meted out against them in elections, politics, and or society.
Madam Harris added that all forms of violence must be reported to the rightful authorities, and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.
Atty. Harris made the statement at a one-day women’s Dialogue to create awareness on issues that lead to violence against women in elections and politics, and how to rally support for women’s political participation, representation, and leadership, especially in Liberia’s 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections, scheduled for October 10, 2023.
Presenting on the topic, “Understanding the Causes, Forms, and Prevention of Violence against Women in Elections, Atty. Facia Harris used the occasion to encourage women to always report any form of violence against them.
Using her legal background Atty. Harris said under the law, no one should be insulted for supporting a particular candidate of their choice but rather everyone should have that free will to support whoever they want to support as enshrined in Article 5 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
She said despite the gender policies and international laws in the book, violence is still been perpetrated against women. “Women go through physical, psychological and emotional violence and when heartless men want to make women shame, they will start to discuss her body in order to discourage her,” Atty. Harris said.
The Young Women Empowerment, Protection and Participation in Elections project’s goal is to contribute to effective public awareness of the causes and prevention of Violence Against Women in Elections and promote Women’s Political Participation, Leadership, and Representation, especially in Liberia’s 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections, with focus on VAWiE/Protocol and the role of all stakeholders in preventing violence against women in elections with a call for accountability and an end to impunity.
Also speaking at the dialogue, the head of the Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL), Madam Siatta Scott Johnson rallied women to support their fellow women to encourage women’s political participation in the country.
“Let us encourage our sisters and everyone to vote for women, Women are good leaders and decision-makers if they are given the chance because they know the pain of another woman,” Madam Johnson said.
She presented on the topic, “Why do women’s political, participation, Representation, and leadership matter in Liberia?”
The dialogue is one of several being organized under the auspices of the “Young Women Empowerment, Protection, and Participation in Elections project,” by Atty. Facia B. Harris, Liberia’s United States Department of State International Woman of Courage 2022 and IVLP Fellow under the IVLP Impact Award 2023 initiative which Funding is provided by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with Meridian International Center as the implementing partner.
Atty. Facia B. Harris is also the Executive Coordinator of the Paramount Young Women Initiative (PAYOWI) a woman-led, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the rights of adolescent girls and young women in Liberia. The dialogue was held in collaboration with PAYOWI.
Madam Hawa C. Wilson the program coordinator admonished the First-time young women voters to take pride in exercising their democratic right to decide their leaders. She admonished them to seek information and participate in the electoral process from an informed position, reporting and speaking up against all forms of violence they encounter.
The dialogue brought women from diverse backgrounds, some expressing that it was their first gathering on violence against women in elections and understanding other forms of violence that prevent women from fully participating in elections and leadership positions. The women stressed that sexual and gender-based violence is also prevalent during election organizing and must be addressed.
Similar dialogues are expected to be held in Bong and Grand Cape Mount Counties.