By: Jeremiah Sackie Cooper
Liberia-April 25, 2023: As the call for equal participation in the governing process of Liberia intensifies ahead of the October 2023 Polls, the Chairperson of the National Election Commission Davidetta Browne-Lansanah is urging Liberian women to actively engage in the electoral and governing processes of the country.
Speaking on a local radio station, Madam Browne said women participation to the political process is key, as such; they should take up roles in key areas including the presidency.
“Women must participate in electoral processes as registered voter, also too as candidates with various parties or if they go as independent because women constitute 50% of the population and any development that comes about in the future women should also benefit from development in their various communities”, she added.
According to the NEC boss, almost every major position in the country has been occupied by the men, something she said, continues to lead to the creation of laws that has negative impact on women and girls in Liberia.
Madam Brown-Lassanah encouraged the full participation of women in decision making processes of the country to ensure a gender balance at the Legislature and other areas.
” It is very important that women all over the country register to vote because they have to participate in all of those processes that will eventually affect them, their children, husbands and their brothers”, she said.
Women make 13% of the Legislature. That is, of the total of 103 Seats, women constitute 13, two in the Liberian Senate and 9 in the House of Representatives.
On Tuesday 13, September 2022, the Legislature passed the amended version New Election law of 1986 to which section 4.5 mandates Political Parties to have not less than 30% or more than 70% of either gender on their party listing.
Section 4.5(1)(c) emphasized that parties , which does not have the minimum of thirty percent (30%) of the candidates from each gender shall be returned by the Commission with the understanding that the defaulting political party, coalition or alliance of political parties may comply with this threshold for gender participation in politics by submitting a new list of candidates within the time and or be fined 5,000 United States dollars.
Meanwhile, the Liberian Preso George Weah has vetoed certain portion of the Amended New Elections Law on procedures and regulation of the Elections. The Affirmative action (4.5) is found within the bill which is suffering a major setback as the Legislature is currently on recess and may not review it until may 2023.
This setback has discouraged many activists for gender political equality that Affirmative Action for women is far from being achieved in Liberia based on the lack of Political Will. The women of Liberia built their hopes on Pres. Weah’s assertions of being a Feminist-in-Chief; supposing provision of 5,000UsD to each woman contesting the 2023 elections; active call to see women on the ballot among others.
However, the President’s comments contradict the vetoed bill which is lying on the steps of the Legislature.