President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf has begun suggesting strategies to female representative candidates that could help narrow down the number of female contestants as a way of strengthening them to get more women winning seats in the House of Representatives this October.
After being presented with 152 female representative candidates along with the name of a single female presidential candidate and six female vice presidential candidates at the Liberian Women Political Forum on Tuesday, 8 August, Mrs. Sirleaf felt short of being excited especially with the news that seven females are battling against each other in just one district.
“I will say to you, you people are many. I wish we had done it in such a way where we could have taken note of each of those running against each other and had been a little bit more selective in narrowing it down to say in this area instead of having five of you competing among yourselves and then competing with men, making it very difficult, you know,” she says.
During the forum at the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Sirleaf cautions that if female candidates in a particular district cannot select and support one candidate against their male counterparts, they might lose a seat to a male candidate while fighting each other.
Since everybody wanted to contest, President Sirleaf says it makes it a little bit hard to do the things that “we needed to do” to make the female candidates stronger. In addition to the challenge already posed by the number of female candidates residing in a single district, Mrs. Sirleaf also sees another challenge posed by the fact that each of the female candidates come from different political parties, thus making it difficult to ask one person to stand down to support the other.
While acknowledging that money helps in achieving political objectives, Mrs. Sirleaf tells the female candidates that the road to political success is not money, noting that “the main ingredient is your relationship [with] your people.”
She says the competition among the female candidates is heavy, saying how they’ll come out of it, will depend on what they will put into it.” She reminds the female candidates of the need to be willing to work in the communities and do what is necessary to prepare for the elections.
Speaking earlier, Montserrado County Representative Madam Josephine Francis who is seeking re-election narrates how Mrs. Sirleaf supported her quest for the district seat and became victorious.
She says the campaign is not easy, even for the incumbents, and cautions that female candidates should make sure that their followers do not disturb the peace and not be abusive. She calls Mrs. Sirleaf a role model for the female politicians here, saying she has encouraged them to take such steps.
She warns that the House of Representatives is not for some little boys or girls, but for men and women who will be committed to their country. She discourages those who may be looking at the job for income earning to stay home because where Liberia is today; no one is carrying “us back.”