Monrovia: Ahead of the 2023 presidential and legislative elections, the Angie Brooks International Center (ABIC) organized a gender conversation of a one-day mediation dialogue with women leaders from political parties, civil society organizations (CSOs), and communities.
The dialogue was held under the auspices of the flagship program of “The Women Situation Room” to strengthen the participation of women in politics.
The initiative is being undertaken under the “Sustainable and Inclusive Peace in Liberia through promoting women’s leadership and participation in civic and political life and their Strengthened Role in Conflict Resolution” in partnership with ZOA.
Funding came from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund.
The program held in the Cecil Dennis Auditorium at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs brought together women from 20 communities including 10 from Bong County and 10 from Montserrado County.
Communities from Bong include Belefanai, Gbarnga Community, Suakoko, Wainsue, Palala, Gbartala, Folobia, Cuttington, Salala, and Totota community.
Communities from Montserrado included Gardnesville, PHP, King Gray, Todee, Bentol, Clara Town, Westpoint, New Kru Town, District #8 and Crozierville.
Political parties attending the program were Alternative National Congress, Liberia Transportation Party, Union of Liberia Democrats, ALCOP, Redemption Democratic Change, People’s Unification Party, New Liberia Party, Coalition for Liberia’s Progress, All Liberian Party, National Patriotic Party, People’s Liberation Party, Unity Party, and Coalition for Democratic Change.
A discussion at the dialogue included understanding the trajectory of women’s political participation in Liberia; identifying barriers that prevent women’s political participation; breaking the barriers and stereotypes against women’s political participation; and towards 2023, how to increase women’s participation in the upcoming election.
At the opening of the discussion session, the former Chief Justice of the Republic of Liberia, Cllr. Frances Johnson Allison urged the participating women to be fearless of their decision to participate in politics.
“We got to be fearless about this thing. No matter what we do men have to be there so that we can work together,” she told the participating women.
Following Cllr. Johnson Allison’s statement, the women raised concern about how they are not educated and it could prevent them from competing with their male counterparts.
They also encouraged their fellow women to support one another and not to breed envy among themselves.
The further raised concern about the registration fee for candidates at the National Elections Commission, describing it as a recipe to prevent women from venturing into politics.
The added that women who will ascend to public offices should fight illicit drugs which they said is destroying the young generation among other things.
Winnie Johnson, a participant from West Point said “As women we do not love each other, and because of that we are not supporting our friend women.”
Winnie was followed by Annie Payed, Chief of Office Staff of Senator Botoe Kanneh, telling the gathering that women are not availing themselves to support other women.
But motivating the women, Cllr. Johnson Allison said the women should fight for the reduction of registration fees to allow females to ably complete and break barriers and stereotypes against their political participation.
Madam Olubanke King Akerele, former Foreign Minister and eminent woman of the Women Situation Room told the participants, “we can understand that there are big hands behind drug traffickers but we can work with the men, we have to stand up and rescue our children.”
ABIC Establishment Coordinator Counselor Yvette Chesson-Wureh told the women to be committed to their decision to participate in political leadership.
She said one of the biggest barriers for women in finance, adding, “For you all to have the political participation, you have to stand for that barrier to drop. We are aware of the drug situation, it is on our agenda and we will look at it.”