Nearing an exit of her two six year consecutive terms, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is unveiling an alternative use of Executive Order to ensure that a Domestic Violence Bill currently before the Legislature is passed into law, if lawmakers here failed to pass it.
“I ask you Senator, Representative to make sure, I see representative also over there. To make sure that the domestic violence bill is passed. I will prefer not to use an Executive Order; but I can use it if you don’t pass it,” President Sirleaf told lawmakers attending a National Women conference in Paynesville on Wednesday, 13 July.
The conference hosted by the Gender, Children and Social Protection Ministry, Women Legislative Caucus, Women NGO Secretariat in collaboration with the UN System and partners is aimed at brainstorming for an affirmative action to ensure more representation for women, youth and disabled persons here.
Mrs. Sirleaf recalled making a commitment at the UN few years ago about protecting women against domestic violence by instituting measures to ensure that young women and boys are freed of traditional practices to enable them pursue their education.
The Liberia Domestic Violence Act was introduced at the Legislature in September 2015, but President Sirleaf says it is still at the Legislature; thus urging women to bring their voices to bear on the lawmakers so that the bill is passed with Liberia’s traditions remaining protected.
Regarding the Women, Physically Challenged and Youth Affirmative Bill presented to President Sirleaf on Wednesday at the conference, she said the principle of equity imposed by the bill is incontestable. “We will ensure that there’s better representation of women, better representation of youth, better representation of the physically challenged. We just need to make sure that we put it in the right time,” she noted.
Mrs. Sirleaf said to proceed to implement the bill requires more study, taking into consideration its financial implication, timing and implementation on grounds that once it is passed, the constraints cited here should not become obstacle for its implementation.
She assured that upon her return from an AU conference in Rwanda where there is large number of women participation in parliament, much will be done in working on the bill that she says requires everyone in for its achievement.
Some speakers at the conference, including UNMIL chief and SRSG Mr. Farid Zarif and prominent Liberian Sister Mary Laurene Brown in separate statements told Liberian women that the fact that they have about half of the votes, they should not be crying for elected jobs when they could simply speak through the ballot by electing female politicians.
Sister Mary Laurene Brown said women should blame themselves on the issues of elected offices, before urging them to put aside crab mentality where they would decline voting for one another. For his part, Mr. Zarif said women here account for 50 percent of the ballots, thus making them to have power in decision making, when it comes to reelection of people.
EU Ambassador to Liberia Ms. Tiina Intelmann urged women to work harder and do more, noting that women empowerment is not only a future for Liberia, but also for the entire world, as she cited EU’s continued support in the promotion of gender equity.
Carter Center Representative Ms. Laura Newman at the conference said if women were empowered, they can change the world, arguing that 70 percent of women’s earnings goes to the family; while on a very low margin, she claims that their male counterparts only take home 30 percent of their earnings.
Montserrado County Sen. Madam Geraldine Doe Sheriff upon receiving the bill for onward presentation to President Sirleaf, had earlier said any delay with the bill will be a collateral damage.
By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne