Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa in collaboration with the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development in partnership with MADRE and the African Women Development Fund (AWDF) is hosting the Liberian Women Peace Summit 2023.
The peace forum’s primary purpose is to provide a cross-section of Liberian women with a venue to consult, reflect, and strategize approaches to ensure peaceful elections in 2023.
The Liberian Women’s Peace Summit (LWPS) would offer structured consultations for Liberian women to assemble, discuss crucial issues for peaceful elections in 2023, and create a public position statement.
Liberian women from all backgrounds and political affiliations will identify major concerns influencing peaceful elections and women’s participation, as well as the Liberian women’s manifesto for peace, during the following few days.
“Over the last two days, we have been having conversations about some of the challenges not just challenges to women political candidates but challenges to peace in Liberia is a challenge that we all face. Some of the issues women from different communities have been citing and political parties are issues of security, attacks on their persons, worry about their children because politics is a very tough game and these elections are highly congested,” Peace Laurate Layma Gbowee told an interview August 7, 2023.
Madam Gbowee said the entire conversation around peace should not be left with women candidates or women in the community but rather political parties and the national elections commission has a responsibility to ensure this work.
“The transparency of the process is what women are looking for because if the process is not transparent it leaves very little for people to imagine and if you leave people to imagine they will imagine many negative things and we don’t want that,” she added.
Gbowee disclosed that following the summit a manifesto will be developed on some of the things women want, translated into local knowledge, and aired on 30 different media outlets including community radio stations across the 15 counties.
“Beyond that, we also want to see political parties using the message of peace because it is not just about elections. also, we asked female candidates that during their campaigning process, we will have sticks with peace messages that we are going to give to them. We have some flyers and t-shirts that we will give at the end of this process so as they are campaigning they can also put it out there that peace is important for this electoral process,” she noted.
According to the Peace Laureate, one of the key components of the conversation is how religious institutions can use their platforms to read peace messages that will be developed for their congregations.
“We are going to be engaging with some churches to say at least two minutes every Sunday we are going to read our message. We will also be engaging with the Iman to say use this message for one or two minutes Read it to your congregation to say this is what the women want. This is not a strange thing for me, this is like what I was made for to do community peace building work so at the end of it all this is what we are going to be engaging with.”
“To be honest, no Liberians can afford to run away. Leymah Gbowee can afford to fly out if any noise comes but she cannot afford to carry all of her family members so flying out will be consequential to my health and everything. Gbowee further “And there’s no way we would want any form of disturbance. Even you as journalists know that we cannot afford it. No country or group of people in their sound minds can afford for us to go to war or to have any kind of blood shared here so the message resonates a lot.”
She think it is important for all of us to be messenger of peace from the media to peace activist, to politicians.
“This is not a moment for us to rely on as Liberians. 20 years of peace is not a small feet we’ve acquired, if you look around in the subregion we see many countries are shaking from a lot of attention in different parts of the world and we don’t want Liberia to be a part of it so I am using this medium to appeal to especially the young people who didn’t live to see the impact of the civil war or who were not around to see how people suffer that.”
She cautioned voters especially young people not to allow themselves to be used by any political grouping noting that peace is about the future of the young people and it is about the future of Liberia so this is my message that we should all conduct ourselves peaceably during these elections.