-Engages Voters Ahead Of By-Elections
By R. Joyclyn Wea
A team of thirty (30) community mobilization volunteers have undergone a day long training of trainers’ program organized by UN Women in collaboration with the Gender Section of the National Elections Commission (NEC).
The community mobilizers will be responsible to engage communities especially women on the importance of their participation in the upcoming by-elections and the value of voting gender sensitive leaders.
The intend is to ensure at least 70% of the number of women registered voters in the areas where these by-elections, will be taking place to participate in the process.
The electorates in the district have an opportunity to understand the value of women’s leadership and participation.
Speaking to Reporters after the Training, Oxfam Gender Specialist, Lisa Kindervater said “Gender justice is a major part of our program and we are working to end violence against women, and encourage women political participation. If we don’t take this measure seriously, we will keep being at this phase; we are not going to see equal representation in the legislature for the next hundred years and more.”
“Women make up 16 percent of Liberia’s population, but there are only 10% at the Liberian legislature and that’s not fair, and not really democracy,” she said.
Liberia conducted a transition process early 2018 following the presidential and legislative elections in October/December 2017, the seats contested included presidency and 73 vacancies in the House of Representatives.
According to the results announced by the National Elections Commission, women retained nine out of 16% of registered candidates (165/1054), something which is as the result of late engagement a factor that led to the low numbers of women elected.
Additionally, these elections created two vacancies in the senate (Montserrado and Bong counties) and the subsequent vacancies in the HoR and senate as the result of the election of Saah Joseph and appointment of Joseph Nagbe as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia.
The numbers of women candidates contesting the Montserrado district three by-elections show a declined from the percentage of women who contested the 2017 presidential and legislative elections.
It is a concern as it obvious that if these female candidates do not win the numbers of women in the national legislature will have a further decline; 13/99 in 2005 12/103 in 2011 to 11/103 in 2018.
This compounded by the decline of the percentage of women in full ministerial appointments from 21% to 11% despite several commitments by the new administration including at the European development days this years.
Notwithstanding, the low number of women in the election as candidates, it is important that women and men turnout to vote in high numbers with an understanding of why it is important for women to participate in politics; and why it is men and women into political offices.
Madam Kindervater termed as challenging the issue of by-elections in the country noting that by-elections really have terribly low voters turned out adding “we saw the recent Montserrado and Bong counties by-elections; he are hoping that for the district three Montserrado county by-election people take it seriously.”
She wants voters recognized their power by getting involved with the democracy processes as there are gap of women missing in the national legislature therefore, citizens must voter women candidates in the pending by-election.
According to her, more needs to be done to encourage women to contest, to prepare them for a better leadership and to further encourage women to support women because voters remain bias to some of those gender stereotypes.