MONROVIA-Former Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says male leaders have not delivered, therefore, she is rallying women to come together and form a strong sisterhood to take on leadership at all level of the country.
Madam Sirleaf said women stand a good chance if they are ready for the competition, prepare themselves, come together and support each other since the men have not delivered the goods for women and the country.
She spoke at an event organized by the organization for Women and Children (ORWOCH) with funding from the European Union through Oxfam and the foundation for Community Initiative (FCI) to promote transformational leadership to increase women’s active participation for a sustainable peace and development come 2023.
Madam Sirleaf claimed that the global environment is also transcending into a local environment and that environment says it is time for change, equality for women and it is time for women to standup and demand it because they have a right to it.
The former president said; “We have problem as women leaders, we are not perfect; we have shortcomings, but there is always an opportunity to watch out for, to keep finding new means, measures, approaches towards achieving one’s goal.”
She holds the view that it is never easy when one wants to compete in a position of elective office on grounds that there will be too things against you that will attempt to degrade and marginalize you, but you have to standup saying; “Be brave, be committed, be determined, stand your ground, tomorrow belongs to you.”
The former President asserted that training and giving women the opportunity to exchange views and build on each other as well as reaching out to help bring others women alone is important to achieving their goal.
She said together women are strong, alone their task is made hard.
According to Madam Sirleaf, the initiative by ORWOCH to prepare women to compete, to take a stand and challenge men is something they have been longing for in an institutionalized way.
She furthered that the presence of women at the event does not only demonstrate women readiness, but also shows that women want to standup and be able to take leadership along with men, where they can establish a goal, promote and implement in the positions that they would hold in the legislature.
“We have not done so well in the Legislature as pointed out, we excel for a little bite and we fall” former President Sirleaf said to the women in the room.
The 14th circle of the Rise the Bar women political leadership is a three day intensive training program aid at building the capacity of women aspirants ahead of the 2023 elections.
Also speaking at the event, Aine Hanrahan of United Nations Women-Liberia said training such as what they recently had, promotes transformational leadership to increase women’s active participation in decision-making for sustainable peace and development.
According to the UN-Women Liberia official, come 2023 there is a need to see the change women want in government.
She said, “We want to see gender equally, equal opportunities and to see women leaders lead.”
Hanrahan reaffirmed UN Women’s commitment to supporting the government of Liberia, women’s rights organizations and women candidates in Liberia, not only in putting forth robust gender responsive legal provisions, but also with more programs with the conviction that, with more women in leadership and public offices Liberia’s development will be more inclusive and the benefits will accrue to all citizens.
“The evidence is clear that increased women’s political participation and leadership helps build safer, more inclusive and more stable societies” Hanrahan said.
She said when women are in decision-making positions, more inclusive decisions are made, different voices are heard, and different solutions are created.
The UN worker mentioned that to support Liberia’s efforts in having more women in leadership and politics and in adherence to representative democracy, development of robust legal provisions which are gender responsive to enable a critical mass of women who run for elections and be in public offices is an imperative.
According to her, to shift the paradigm of women’s leadership and to ensure that the voices of diverse groups of citizens are included in the decision-making process, there is need for more supportive gender responsive legal provisions that domesticate the signed international treaties.
Giving the overview of the training, ORWOCH Executive Atty. Director Mmonbeydo Joah said the training is largely informed by the data from the 2017 elections and the 2020 special senatorial election which show a numerical disproportion of men and women in politics and decision-making in Liberia.
According to Joah, negative stereotypes are major stumbling block to women success in political decision-making and it is important they engaged community and women at all levels to change the narrative which include capacity building and resource mobilization.
“The Rise the Bar women political leadership training is to trained women and community leaders how to run campaign, do campaign plans and budget including reviewing elections law, cases and on the overall seeks to demystify political process,” she said.
She furthered that it is better to start educating women early even before election year because training for women candidates to campaign and prepare themselves for the task ahead often come late and this according to her most time jeopardize their chances.
Atty. Joah added, “Now is time to prepare female through capacity building, fund raising, networking and building a movement to increase women presence in the legislature and at the national and local decision-making levels.”
Similarly; Godo Kolubah, Senior Governance Program Manager at the Embassy of Ireland said the event is a clear indication of advancing women political leadership in Liberia.
Kolubah said, “We must all do our part to break the ceiling of women leadership and men are necessary to achieving this cost.”