The grounds of the Capitol Building was a place of excitement and joy when many gathered on Thursday, at the Rotunda to grace the induction ceremony of the Women’s Legislative Caucus which was greeted with dances from traditional women and well-wishers from the home of Chairperson Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence and other groups.
The new core of officers inducted into office along with Senator Karnga-Lawrence includes vice president Jewel Howard-Taylor, advisor, Senator Botoe Kanneh, Co-Chair/ National Affairs, Representative Moima Briggs Mensah, Co-Chair/International Affairs, Representative Rustonlyn Dennis, Secretary. Representative Julie Wiah, Financial Secretary, Representative Ellen Attoh Wreh, Treasure, Representative Mary Karwor, Chaplain.
Others are, Dr. Rosana Shaack, a member, Representative Haja Siryon, a member, Representative Mariama Fofana, a member, and Representative Finda G. Lansanah, member.
Attending the program which was held Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Rotunda of the Capitol Building, were other members of the Legislature including Senator Darius Dillion, Senator Comany Wesseh, Senator Stephen Zargo, other members of the Legislature, women groups from other political parties, youths, diplomats, members of the international community, amongst others.
Gloria Musa Scott, former Chief Justice of the Republic of Liberia while inducting the new Caucus leadership reminded the women that they are from different political parties but are in minority, she cautioned that they should not forget their common denominator that they all are women who have given birth. Mentioning that they revive and indicated that it is the revival that Liberia needs, and as such, they are at the Legislature to represent the women of the Republic of Liberia.
The newly inducted chairperson of the Women’s Legislative Caucus of Liberia (WLC), Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, in her speech delivered said, the Liberty Party (LP) is concerned about making a 50% quota for women in leadership positions and added that the 50% representation would force the party to have more women in leadership positions and help to increase women’s representation at the Legislature.
Making this known she said “Madam Vice President, about the CDC’s 40% quota, the Liberty Party is pushing for a 50% women quota,” the LP Political Leader stated during the ceremony and emphasized that the Women’s Caucus will ensure, as one of its priorities, the reelection of the 9 female Representatives who are seeking reelection in 2023.
” I am appealing to our international partners to help assess female candidates and provide the necessary moral and financial support to increase women’s representation in the Legislature”, she further said and thanked her colleagues for the preferment and promised to work in the interest of the women of Liberia.
Delivering the keynote message of the program earlier, Vice President, Chief Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor described the day as a good day and recounted her experience when she was diagnosed with Covid 19 and survived and is alive as she gave thanks to God.
She said the new leadership has a great assignment and challenges to foster cooperation in the interest of all regardless of political parties, mentioning that they must find out where the issues are, take serious Gender Base Violence and tackle Female Genital Mutilation and also pay attention to women empowerment.
Vice President Taylor urged the women to speak out, especially when women’s issues are involved, saying the leadership is taking over at a critical time where the Ministry of Gender cannot do all, pointing to Senator Karnga-Lawrence and her core of officers to ensure that the women of Liberia are lifted. “We have to forget where we come from to make sure the women of Liberia are lifted.”
The first Liberian Vice president asked the Women Caucus to move into the communities and find out what is happening that they can put their voice to. Outlining example, she mentioned that it could be SGBV, education, or other issues, stressing that there is enough that everybody could talk about as a particular subject matter pertaining to women and girls.
“Our women voices must come together in a huge and collective way to help our women and girls. You need to walk up in the communities and speak to the women, so when you get to 2023 they will not feel you just want to use them” She told the women at the Legislature and reminded them to use the positions they have to make the achievement that the women of Liberia need, urging them to lead the change that they need.
“To all the women of Liberia here I want to ask that you do one thing, forget the past, who did what or who didn’t do what, come together and make that change”, she stated.
The VP paid homage to the Coalition for Democratic Change for the 40% women quota representation in 2023 and lamented over the lack of women representation from the Southeast, something she called on women in that part of the country to step forward and vie for elective positions and encouraged the women from across the 15 political subdivision of Liberia to support their colleagues by voting them in order to have more at the Legislature.
In closing, Vice President Taylor urged Chairperson Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence to reach out to all former members of the Women’s Legislative Caucus. She also called on the international community to support women who are involved with gender issues, saying to include everyone at the table to bring more positive results.
The chairperson for the House Committee on Education and Public Administration, Rep. Mariamu Fofana, said the Speaker has committed to favoring bills relating to women’s empowerment. She made the statement when she served as a proxy for the Speaker of the House of Representatives Bhofal Chambers,
The Chairman of the Senate’s Health Committee, Sen. Cllr. Augustine Chea, who served as a proxy for the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, Albert Chie, also expressed the Pro-Tempore’s commitment to favor bills relating to women’s empowerment, mentioning that the Senate is internally discussing the amendments to legalize abortions.
Representative Rosana Shaack, the outgoing Chairperson of the Women’s Legislative Caucus, said it was an interesting experience to serve as the Chairperson of the Women’s Legislative Caucus of Liberia for the past 4 years, stating that as the new Chairperson with her core of officers takes over the mantle of their respective positions, there is so much to do in facilitating the transformation of the lives of women and girls in the country.
“It is our oversight responsibility to review existing laws and reforms, draft new laws that promote gender equality, and work with the Executive to ensure all these laws are implemented”, she told the gathering earlier.