Former Associate Justice Cllr. Gladys K. Johnson has admonished Liberians not to sell their votes in the upcoming elections. “For too long we have suffered from the hands of our so-called lawmakers, who we elected on the basis of friendship, and this election must serve as a caveat to others who think they can buy our votes by giving things to us only when there is an election”, Cllr. Johnson said.
The former Associate Justice gave the warning over the weekend at a local hotel during the launch of a report titled; “Women: The Least Secure Tenure” Assessing the impact of Liberia’s large scale concession land development on women’s land and natural resources tenure rights.
The launch was held under the auspices of various local groups including Green Advocates, Alliance for Rural Democracy and Natural Resource Women Platform.
Serving as chief launcher, Cllr. Johnson also ex-chairperson of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights, specifically warned rural women, saying “you women most often can be the problem for yourselves.”
The report is based on studies conducted in five counties on the impact of large scale concessions in agriculture, mining and forestry on women’s tenure rights in Liberia in order to make policy recommendation aimed at addressing gaps and grievances confronting women in concession areas.
The ultimate objective is to ensure such concessions lead to greater development benefits for affected women and communities members at large.
“You continue to make the same old mistake that our people used to make; for every time there is an electoral process, your votes must be based on past record, or what the person in question have done in your respective counties, or district, but some of you can vote simply because that person is your relative or that person have bought your vote by giving you few bags of rice with money, and these are things that contribute to our backwardness as a people.”
She said too often women, especially those in rural parts blame government for everything that happens to them, forgetting that it is not government that can vote for them, stressing “If a concession company enters your county, and doesn’t fulfill promises that were made, it is your responsibility to engage your lawmaker; that his function to speak on your behalf, instead of complaining, or finding way to create violence.”
Rural women here have complained about the dangers caused by various concession companies which they said, caused them to lose their traditional land and forest with creeks polluted by wastes.
Cllr. Johnson said the essence of citizens electing people to sever as representatives is to channel their grievances in order to find remedy, but these things are not happening, adding “and this is why we must not continue to vote people who will not be in our interest or people who will not speak for us anytime we have problems.” Editing by Jonathan Browne