The National Elections Commission has organized a two-day roundtable discussion with the Inter-Party Consultative Committee, the Coalition of Political Parties Women in Liberia, and the Civil Society Organizations on the need to implement the 30 percent, of female candidates, on listing for elected positions in the country.
The discussion, which is sponsored by the UN Women, the Irish Aid, Sweden, the UN Peace Building Office, and the United Nations Development Program, was held at a local hotel in Monrovia.
Speaking at the ceremony marking the opening of the discussion, NEC Commissioner, Josephine Gaye, said women constitute more than half of Liberia’s population but this is not translated in elected positions, especially in the legislature.
According to her, it is incumbent for all full fledge registered political parties to ensure that women constitute 30 percent of their listing in future elections in Liberia.
Commissioner Gaye added that this round table discussion seeks to improve the capacity of political parties’ women purposely to participate in the electoral process and decision making as well as understanding the roles and responsibilities of civil society organizations in the electoral process in the country
“The gathering is also intended for our women to form part of our electoral process and the national decision-making bodies,” she said; adding: “ so, the lessons that will be acquired should be taken to our respective organizations in order to spread the message.”
“After the 2020 elections,” she went on to say, “the National Elections Commission conducted a nationwide consultation and stakeholders’ dialogue in order to ascertain the views that were raised during the election.”
“With the 2023 elections fast approaching,” Commissioner Gaye explained. “ there is a need for inclusiveness, full and equal participation of women, persons with disabilities, and youths in the listing of political parties. Based on this background, the NEC with support from its international partners resolved to hold these round table discussions with political parties so that we all can develop concrete strategies and proposals for 30 percent of female representation to be implemented.”
For her part, the Director of the Gender Department at the National Elections Commission, Leisel Talery, said the deliberation is intended to among others things educate participants on the elections laws, curb violence against females during electoral season, build the capacity of political parties on the involvement of women in elected positions.
According to her, the new election law calls for 30 female candidates on each political party’s listing that will be presented to the National Elections Commission during any elections in the country.
“So, we are discussing with political parties and CSOs to see what can be done to achieve this 30 percent on each political party’s listing.”
“We have held similar discussions with heads of the youth and women wings of registered political parties and this discussion is to meet directly with the leaders themselves.”
Madam Talery added that at the end of this discussion, the political parties, the Coalition for Political Parties Women in Liberia, and the civil society organizations are expected to come out with a number recommendations for punitive action that will be taken against parties the political parties that will fail in putting 30 percent women candidates on their tickets
Concluding, Madam Talery made it clear that 50 participants were invited to the discussion and in the end, it is hoped that they will develop recommendations so as to ensure that political parties abide by the 30 percent law.
Speaking on behalf of political parties, the National Chairlady of the Liberty Party, Willette Cooper-Lysander, described the round table discussion organized by NEC as the right step in the right direction.
According to her, the discussion is not only in the interest of women but also the politicians because they have their sisters, daughters, their wives, and even their mothers.
“This is for all of us,” she claimed, “once you support your sister, your wife, you are definitely supporting yourselves, so we look forward to seeing how we can discuss and advance proposals to move forward as it is about Liberia .”
Remaking during the opening ceremony, the Vice Chairperson of the Coalition of Political Parties Women in Liberia, Rosetta Goyah-Jones, who represented the Chairperson, Finda Bundo, said COPPWIUL welcomed the discussion organized by the National Elections Commission.
She said COPPWILL look for cordial relationships with chairmen of political parties in Liberia so as to make this law work in Liberia.
In remarks, the Program Officer at the Election Coordinating Committee, Jocita Korkoyah, who spoke on behalf of CSOs, appealed to the men to peacefully relinquish some of their powers in order for the women can give the chance to see how the law can be implemented at the political party levels.
According to her, the ECC has been holding talks with political parties to ensure that women constitute 30 percent of their listing during any elections
During the discussion, the Gender Director at NEC, Leisel Talery , lectured on political parties’ and CSOs’ roles and responsibilities in the implementation of the VAWIE Protocol; the Observer Coordinator at NEC, Abraham Konneh, spoke on understanding the elections laws section 4, 5b and c and its effect on women’s political participation; and Manakaby Donzo delivered a paper on the election cycle, women and youth participation
The discussion, which was held under the theme: “ Action For Achieving 30% Gender Quota For 2023 General and Presidential Election,” was with the slogan; “Promoting Gender Equity in Elections.”
Reported by: Augustine Octavius