Ahead of the 2023 presidential and legislative elections, the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) has organized a gendering conversation at a one-day mediation dialogue with women leadership from political parties, CSOs, and communities under the auspices of the flagship program of ” The Women Situation Room” to strengthen the political participation of women.
The forum was conducted under the “Sustainable and Inclusive Peace in Liberia through promoting women’s leadership and Participation in Civic and Political Life and their Strengthened Role in Conflict Resolution,” in partnership with ZOA and with the funding from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, hosted in the Cecil Dennis Auditorium at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia.
It brought together women from twenty communities including ten from Bong County and ten from Montserrado County. Communities from Bong include Belefanai, Gbarnga Community, Suakoko, Wainsue, Palala, Gbartala, Folobia, Cuttington, Salala, and Totota communities. While Montserrado includes, Gardnesville, PHP, King Gray, Todee, Bentol, Clara Town, Westpoint, New Kru Town, District #8, and Crozierville.
Political parties attending the program were Alternative National Congress, Liberia Transportation Party, Union of Liberia Democrat, ALCOP, Redemption Democratic Change, People’s Unification Party, New Liberia Party, Coalition for Liberia’s Progress, All Liberian Party, National Patriotic Party, People Liberation Party, Unity Party, and Coalition for Democratic Change.
A discussion at the dialogue included understanding the trajectory of women’s political participation in Liberia; identifying barriers that prevent women’s political participation; breaking the barriers and stereotypes against women’s political participation in 2023, and how to increase women’s participation in the upcoming election.
At the opening of the discussion session, former Chief Justice of the Republic of Liberia, Cllr. Frances Johnson Morris urged the participating women to be fearless of their decision to participate in politics saying “We got to be fearless about this thing. No matter what we do men have to be there so that we can work together”.
Following Cllr. Johnson Morris statement, the women raised concern about how some of them are not educated which they said could prevent them from competing with their male counterparts. The women meanwhile encouraged their fellow women to support one another especially the educated ones and not to breed envy among themselves.
Most of the women who spoke further raised concern about the registration fee for candidates at the National Elections Commission, describing it as a recipe to prevent them from venturing into politics. They added that women ascending to public offices should fight illicit drugs in society, something they said is destroying the young generation.
Winnie Johnson, a participant from West Point said ” As women, we do not love each other, and because of that we are not supporting our friend women. Winnie was followed by Annie Payed, COS of Senator Botoe Kanneh who told the gathering that women are not availing themselves to support other women.
But motivating the women Cllr. Johnson Morris said the women should fight for the reduction of registration fees to allow females to ably complete and break barriers and stereotypes against their political participation and insist on the Legislature to reduce the fees because it will prevent us, she added.
Olubanke King Akerele former Foreign Minister and eminent woman of the Women Situation Room, told the participating women, “we can understand that there are big hands behind drugs traffickers but we can work with the men, we have to stand up and rescue our children”.
The Establishment Coordinator of the influential Liberian-Based Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security, Counsellor Dr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh encouraged the women to be committed to their decision to participate in political leadership and not to head any women of a political party or independent candidate.
According to her, ” One of the biggest barriers for women is finance, adding for you all to have the political participation, you have to stand for that barriers to drop. We are aware of the drug situation, it is on our agenda and we will look at it.”
Reported by: Stephen G. Fellajuah