Women in Little Bassa Confidence Raised for Local Governance …As FeJAL Holds Community Media Forum (CMF)

Compound 1, Grand Bassa County: Several Women in Little Bassa and Sammie Town Communities, Compound 1, Grand Bassa County have lauded the Female Journalists Association of Liberia and partners for enlightening their minds and boosting their confidence to take up leadership roles and participate in local governance.

The women spoke during a one day Women Rights Focused Community Media Forum Organized by the Female Journalists Association of Liberia in Grand Bassa with support from Internews USAID under the Year III Media Activity.

The Forum which was held under the theme: “Promoting Women Participation and leadership in local governance”, brought together key community stakeholders including town chiefs, women groups, Disable Community, Youth group from two towns (Little Bassa and Sammie Town) to discuss how the community can be more inclusive in terms of decision making at the local level thereby raising awareness of the importance of women leadership in local governance.

During the opening, FeJAL President, Lisa T. Diasay revealed that there is a gap in women representation in local governance at the local and community level. She underscored that inclusivity of all in decision making is cardinal to achieving equal representation especially with women discussing their own issues and rallying support for effective change.

As part of the CMF, FeJAL made a presentation on the local Government act and importance of including everyone in decision making. The presentation highlighted strides other counties are making to ensure women and other marginalized populations lead within the community.

The awareness presentation continued with the rights women have to equal representation and how the local community can together champion inclusion for the betterment of the community.

In a panel discussion with the local stakeholders, Sammie Town Chief Emmanuel Tarr admitted to the exclusion of women in decision making within his community, noting that all the positions in the town are occupied by men and there is a need for a reform. He furthered that women have been marginalized over the years.

Tarr said society have taught them that the community leadership roles should be occupied by men, but based on FeJAL’s presentation, more understanding has been gained to effectuate change. “Now I know that women deserve to be represented in our local governance system of the community, so we can all be as one”.

Also speaking on the panel, the Women Leader of Sammie Town stressed that, women are not being given the chance to making decisions in their various communities especially in Sammie Town, besides many women do not know their rights to participate in local governance based on their traditional beliefs and cultural norms.

She stressed, aside from the marginalization of women in the community, women face other difficulties in accessing quality healthcare, Education for their children, lack of market tables in the market building to enable them to sell their products among others. “We don’t have our own on the community leadership level so no one is there to talk for us. There’s no medication, women too die here from child birth and there’s no high school here for our children but only the men are in the decision chair for us so from today, I will begin to rally our women to make woman town Chief or the head so they can speak for us”, she noted.

Aside from Sammie Town Women Leader, Mamie Watson, a community member of little Bassa voluntarily raised her hand during the session that she will compete for the town chief position following the term of the current chief.

Mamie received warm applauses from across the room, with men and other stakeholders shaking her hands in congratulations for the bold step to take up leadership role.

“I will stand for us the women in this town, because we have many issues and the men have been leading since this town was established so we the women will begin from here”.

In acknowledgment, Little Bassa Town Chief William Tarr who is serving the third of his last term, congratulated the women for standing up to take on the mantle of authority in the town.

“This is strange to me,” he said. Many of the women have been having fear to stand up for the leadership but I want to thank FeJAL for bringing this forum here today because it has helped our women greatly and also given us ideas on how to bring everyone on bird for decision making”, Little Bassa Town Chief Tarr averred.

He admonished FeJAL to ensure more and continuous awareness on the rights of women to local leadership and stakeholders role in ensuring an inclusive community with women and other marginalized groups in leadership.

“I want to thank FeJAL and partners for choosing Little Bassa and Sammie Town to bring this important message to us. Some of us believed that the women were just scared and we also understood that men should lead because that is what we been knowing eversince. I hope that all that was said here today will be taken into consideration by the members of the two communities and we can start working together with it to ensure women can be in leadership “.

Mamie and the Women leader of Sammie Town vowed to rally the women in those two communities and parts adjacent to support women for local leadership positions in order to champion the rights of women and other marginalized groups.

The Local Government act passed in 2018 suggests an equal representation of all on the councils at the local level. The act is intended to decentralize power and decision making that influence the community from national to the local level.

Currently, there are more than 5 women being named and or appointed as county superintendents to stir the affairs of the local government in the counties. Those counties include, Grand Kru, Grand Bassa, Nimba, Margibi and Bong, among others.

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