MONROVIA-Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the women NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL) and the Organization for Women and Children (ORWOCH) held a consultative dialogue with Liberian women from key political parties for reform of section 4.5 of the new elections law of Liberia.
The dialogue which was held under the theme: “stronger together: advocacy to reform section 4.5 of the new elections law” is being supported by United Nations Women with funding from the government of Canada.
The law states in parts that any political party which has been registered by the commission shall send to the commission a list of the candidates who will stand for election to the several elective offices in the several constituencies.
The law further provides that a political party or coalition in its submission to the commission of its list of candidates for an election should endeavor to ensure that the government body and its list of candidates has no less than 30 percent of its members from each gender.
Giving a brief status on section 4.5 of the new elections law at the legislature, Marayah Fyneah, a representative of the Liberian women can lead, urged women of the ruling CDC to lead effort in ensuring that the instrument is passed.
Madam Fyneah stressed the need for collective effort, strong advocacy and relationship to work with the committee to ensure the instrument is passed.
She furthered: “Now is time to work collectively if we must hold on to section 4.5 A and B of the new elections law. Getting the law pass is something we should all work on as women of Liberia.”
As part of effort to ensure the law is reintroduced and passed, Willette Cooper Lysander, chairperson of the women congress of liberty party said she and her team are working with political parties women and the women legislative caucus to mustered the political will to have the law passed.
While they are making effort as party, Lysander called on women to come together as women and foster this cost stressing the need to decentralize the campaign to other women in the counties as their lawmakers will be going for reelection saying “if they can’t sign it they must not be reelected.”
Brainstorming on progress made by political parties women in getting their lawmakers to passed the bill, ANC vice chair for political affairs agreed with Fyneah that women of CDC should lead the effort while other political parties women push them.
Madam Victoria Torlo Koiquah says CDC women will be blamed if women of Liberia does not achieved the passage of the bill because they have the mantle of authority.
She also recommend that the group begin to identify influential women who can frighten the reelection of current legislators as a means of having them passed the bill.
She also asserted that ANC is committed to women participation at all levels, especially in the legislature.
“ANC is committed to finding women and section 4.5 and even beyond the 30 percent endeavor to ensure, but there is a challenge not because women are not competent but because of intimidations due fear of their lives.”
She added; “women movement can help get stewards all political parties to join the movement to have the bill passed.”
At the same time, Snorte Sherman, national chairlady of Liberia People Democratic Party stressed the need for women to see themselves in the bill on ground that most women have limited knowledgeable about the law.
She slightly disagreed with the idea of CDC leading the fight for fear of them taking the glory rather women needs to take initiative and not relying on a particular political party to do so.
“everyone should see this as a women fight and understand that women are ready to stand together and one way to ensure this bill is passed is through the media.”
Similarly, the women chair of Unity Party says it is challenging to have legislators pass the bill because men sees section 4.5 of the election law as power leaving their hands.
She rally the women to engaged and encourage more women to joined the campaign to get men to passed the bill.
Also remarking, the chairperson of the National Civil Society Organization of Liberia says they are more focus on building the technical expertise of political parties women.
According to her, there is still gap on women knowledge of section 4.5 of the new elections law as such there is a need for training and engagement.
She holds that they, as CSOs are also working to strengthen women leadership roles in political parties, but women need to reach out to them as it is the only way they can intervened.
Subsequently, Atty. Mmonbeydo Joah says there is still much to work with women in political parties about emphasizing the need to encourage women to joined the effort.
She wants women who have desire to contest for public office to join a political party to save themselves of the stress that come with running as independent candidate.
Atty. Joah thanked the UN Women and Canada for supporting women organization like theirs, because should anything spark out, local women are the responders.