By: R. Joyclyn Wea
MONROVIA-As women across the world gathered in different locations to celebrate the gains and struggles they have made and undergone, a local women-led organization in Liberia under the banner ‘Sister AID Liberia’ (SALI) has commended the House of Representatives for passing the amended new elections law with significant modification of the sole gender-sensitive section 4.5 with additional counts.
Previously section 4.5 and related counts of the new elections law were discriminatory; SALI Executive Director Miatta Darwolor Thomas told a news conference on Tuesday in Paynesville.
The recent amended section 4.5 specifically states “A list of candidates submitted to the commission for an election shall have no less than 30 percent of the candidates from each gender.”
The added count now provides that “A political party or coalition shall have at least one woman contestant for the primary at the convention for each constituency it nominates a candidate and a political party or coalition whose list from its convention or primary does not satisfy the required quote for gender, such list shall be rejected by the National Elections Commission upon submission.”
Madam Thomas qualifies that these amended provisions are more gender-responsive and encourages the house of the senate to speedily concur for the enactment of the law.
“We observe that while the numerical utility of the amended new elections law is not sufficient to ensure gender parity or equality in political contests, the amended section 4.5 and the attending counts present influencing opportunities for women’s political empowerment and leadership in Liberia,” she indicated.
Despite accounting for half of the population, women are under-represented in public office and key decision-making positions, this under-representative madam Thomas said is largely responsible for public policies with little or no consideration for women’s needs and concerns.
According to the statistics, in Liberia, women occupy just 11 of the 103 seats in the legislature. Overall, the percentage of women in the legislature has steadily declined since 2006, falling to 14 percent in 2011, 12 percent in 2014, and 11 percent in 2017, and ten percent in 2021, while in the cabinet, women make up 21 percent; six percent in local government (general town chiefs to county superintendents).
Madam Thomas mentioned that socio-cultural, ideological, political, and economic barriers to women’s political representation and leadership in governance are punctuated by unequal power relationships at multi-levels.
This situation she claimed emphasizes the urgent need for the house of the senate to swiftly concur with the lower house for the speedy enactment of the amended law noting that her institution is committed to working with women’s rights and like-minded organizations in this regard.
Meanwhile, she lauded the women’s legislative caucus and the women NGOs for persistently leading advocacy efforts for these changes.
Sister aid Liberia is a women-led national non-governmental organization that promotes women’s rights advocacy and empowerment, research and policy engagements, and leadership and capacity building, mainly targeting women and girls.
SALI works with individuals, institutions, social movements, and communities with a shared interest to fight injustices, poverty, and human rights abuses against women and girls among others.