Liberia News: OWCH RECOMMENDS TO NEC

By: R. Joyclyn Wea 

Monrovia-February-19-TNR:The National Elections Commission (NEC) is presented with five counts of recommendations by the Organization for Women and Children (ORWOCH) to guarantee strict adherence to the 30% gender quota, which essentially aims to include more women on political party tickets.
Given the current election system, political parties might be the means of promoting the representation of women in politics; nevertheless, patriarchal traditions still prevent women from holding positions of authority.

The first-of-its-kind research details the concerns and experiences of women throughout the nomination process for candidates, as well as offers recommendations. When presenting the report over the weekend, the ORWOCH Executive Director emphasized how important it is that the National Elections Commission (NEC) collaborates with stakeholders to create an accountability mechanism that clarifies what it means to ensure in the absence of an enforceable legal framework.

Since 2005, CSOs and partners have struggled to increase women’s representation in political decision-making positions, particularly in the legislature. Although no political parties met the 30%, for the major parties in 2005, the average was 20% women on candidate listing (congress for Democratic change-21.7%, unity party-8.8%, and liberty party 22%). Over all in 2005, of 873 candidates, 207 were women-almost 24%. These percentages were higher than in any election thereafter. As a result, the 2005 elections saw the highest percentage of women elected to the legislature with approximately 17% in the senate and 14% in the representative.

These guidelines for political parties were dropped by the 2011 elections and in 2014, the amendments to the new elections law included the phrase “endeavor to ensure” but did not define what constitutes endeavoring to ensure nor include any accountability mechanism.

From 2005 to 2014, not a single political party met the 30% threshold. Only one of the 24 registered parties or coalitions left the quota in 2017. The biggest strongest parties or coalitions did not come close. Up 17%, CDC 11.5%, and LP 10%. In 2020, only two of the nine political parties or coalitions with multiple candidates met the quota. So, without support from political parties, the percentage of women in the legislature has fallen from 16 % in 2006 to less than 13% in 2012, and 11% in 2014. This fell further to under 10% in 2021 and in 2024 is now 10.7%.

“The NEC must establish and create awareness about safes where women candidates who fear reprisals can report corrupt party officials who manipulate candidate nominations against women candidate interests,” Atty Mombeydo Joah added.

Atty Joah recommends that a feminist approach must be adopted to support local women’s rights organizations with core funding to address the challenges women face during candidate nomination.

“The government must formulate a strategy for financing political parties that achieve parity. She said, “Political parties must include in their various plan mobilization, recruitment, and training of women candidates.”

She noted that the NEC must start monitoring gender adherence at least three years before the general election year.

Women gained the right to vote in 1948 following a constitutional amendment following years of collective mobilization by women’s groups. Since 1965 when the first woman was elected to the legislature and following years of civil unrest which created opportunities for women’s increased representation on political parties’ lists, women remain underrepresented in the legislature. Since 2005, Liberian women have advocated and partially succeeded in some instances, gender quota for women. In 2005, a 30% gender quota for women on candidate listings was set through the guidelines relating to the registration of political parties and independent candidates stating that each party “shall ensure” that 30 percent of its candidates are women.

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