The Liberian Senate has overwhelmingly voted against passage of 15 additional seats exclusively to be contested by women.Senate President Pro-Tempore Albert Chie says a bill had been introduced to allot 15 seats in the Senate solely for women, but notes that while the currently male-dominated Senate generally believes in affirmative action, unanimous opinion is that allotment of 15 senatorial seats for women along is not the appropriate remedy for the political empowerment for women, especially in the face of economic contestants.
He made the disclosure at the 54th session of the Liberian Senate Friday, October 04 at the Capitol, saying the Senate has resolved to remain engaged to finding alternatives, through statutes, for women political advancement.
On October 02, over 150 women from Civil Society Organizations (CSO) across the country stormed the Capitol, protesting against the passage of the Gender Parity Bill and its inclusion as a constitutional proposition for the pending referendum.
The women, known as ‘Liberian Women from CSOs,’ with strongly-worded placards against lawmakers, voiced their petition on Monday to the 54th Legislature.
President George M. Weah, during the recent Presidential-Legislative Retreat, submitted eight propositions to the Legislature to amend certain sections of the 1986 Constitution, including Article 80 of the Constitution to provide for additional representative seats for female candidates.
The President’s suggested amendment, Article 80 (f), said: “Notwithstanding Article 11 of this Constitution, in order to address historical imbalances and gender inequality experienced by the female population, one female constituency seat shall be established and reserved exclusively for women representatives in each county. Only female members of political parties shall qualify to contest as candidates for the Female Constituency seats. The female candidate contesting for such seat and who obtains the highest votes in the county shall be elected for a term of five (5) years.”
During one of the debates recently in the Senate on the proposal, Maryland County Senator H. Sen. Morias, a onetime Minister of Internal Affairs during the transitional era of late Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant, described Liberian women as people who are “users” and can be “used” by anybody.
His description of Liberian women into two categories could not be stopped even despite intervention by the only female in the Senate, Sen. Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence who tried unsuccessfully to bring him to order.
Meanwhile, the Senate has also passed an amendment to the 2014 petroleum exploration and production Reform Law to resurrect the upstream petroleum sector and facilitate holding of a petroleum bid within coming months. By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Editing by Jonathan Browne