NAYMOTE Liberia trains 50 young women in politics
By Patrick N. Mensah, Maryland county
Fifty young women in Maryland and River-Gee counties have benefited from two days of training on the WAWiE Protocol, ahead of Liberia’s General and Presidential elections.
The training was organised by Naymote Partners for Democratic Development and funded by the Peace Building fund through UN Women Liberia.
WAWiE Protocol is Violence Against Women in elections and politics. It defines violence against women in politics as any act or threat against women in politics, women activists, women socialists and women candidates and as well targets women who participate in public or political life because they are women and often are perpetrated in highly gendered ways.
The document was signed by the National Elections Commission (NEC) and political parties’ executives on February 18, 2022 with support from UN Women.
During the start of the two days exercise, Naymote Liberia Gender Coordinator, Faith Smith said based on the under representation of women in the legislature and local government, her institution, under the project, is promoting inclusive political participation and the elimination of violence against women in politics project.
Madam Smith said those who were trained on the WAWiE Protocol will carry on awareness on the prevention of violence against women in political and electoral processes, using door to door, town hall meetings, radio talk shows and community engagement approaches.
She continues that the objective of the training is to build the capacity of Naymote’s mentees and CSOs on the protocol and as well help to educate more young people to adhere to the document.
The training, according to her, is part of increasing awareness on women’s Political Participation and Violence Against Women in elections and politics.
NEC deputy magistrate assigned in River-Gee county Joseph Saylee, noted during the training that the commission is committed to building and strengthening Liberia democratic society and will ensure sustainable peace through the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections.
“This can only be a reality when all Liberians both men and women have equal opportunities to engage in the electoral processes as voters, candidates, electoral staffs or simply supporters of a political parties” the NEC representative said.
Mr. Saydee added that when women and men have equal opportunities, societies are stronger, peaceful and prosperous; he also said the National Elections Commission has an action plan which is geared towards supporting the implementation of the protocol between the commission and registered political parties to address violence against women in elections and politics especially, as the country draws closer to the October elections.
Speaking on behalf of the Liberia National Police, deputy commander of Police in River-Gee County Mr. Youlue Collins and deputy commander of Police in Maryland county Layee M. Massaley, quoted Section 6.0 of the Scope of Operation (SOP) for security in election, which calls for strengthening women’s role in electoral violence, prevention and peace building.
“We agreed that the police shall enforce the SOP by ensuring priority is given to female electorates, pregnant women, breast feeding mothers, elders and people living with disabilities during election period”.
According to the LNP officers, the police will work with the media to promote and raise awareness on the privileged access of special group which includes female electorate, pregnant women, breast feeding mothers, elders and people living with disabilities to ensure these people have access to polling places.
“LNP will ensure women aspirants and candidates are also protected as provided for by the WAWiE protocol, stereotyping of all kinds against women in elections will be strictly prohibited”.
For their part, Gender Ministry coordinators for River-Gee and Maryland counties Veronica Dialleh and Sayennoh Natalie-whea stressed the need for more awareness around the WAWiE Protocol especially, in the southeastern region of the country, saying traditional belief is impending women’s leadership in that part of the country.
“Women are facing too many challenges in terms of leadership in our counties, the level and forms of violence women go through in election cannot be over emphasized, culture and societal barriers have hugely impacted women’s leadership and political participation”.
The 50 young women who were trained have vowed to go back to their different communities to create awareness on the WAWiE Protocol and as well monitor the electoral activities to ensure the Protocol is adhere to and implemented by all parties in Liberia.
Women in Liberia account for at least fifty percent of the population, but they are underrepresented in the body politics of the country. Currently, there are nine (9) women out of 73 members at the House of Representatives, and two in the Liberian Senate.