News Week Magazine Focuses Queen Elizabeth Ii and Jewel Howard Taylor of Liberia: What an Impactful Recognition? Part I
In the wake of News Week Magazine’s feature on Liberia’s former first lady now Senior Senator of Bong County and the British Queen, this columnist received several calls for a repeat of the story; while others have requested to know the inner history of the Liberian Senator who has captured the recognition of America’s powerful magazine. This presentation is a continuation of last week’s edition and is intended to unveil her personal history and why the magazine referred to her as Liberia’s second most powerful woman.
Besides the recognition of News Week Magazine, Senator Taylor has gained many recognitions, distinctions and awards from local, national, and international institutions and bodies. With high performance ratings- though slammed with sanctions by collective quilt- Senator Taylor is firmed, articulate and principled when dealing with controversial issues relating to the peace, unity, and reconciliation processes. Undoubtfully, she is a reconciler, motivator and impact builder of the confidence of Liberians especially those who come into close proximity with her. Welcome to this column which brings you face to face with this indefatigable leader from Bong County. Who is she? What is she? Where did she come from? How did she shoot into national and international prominence?
The name Jewel Howard-Taylor is nationally and internationally known. Born unto the union of Mr. and Mrs. Moses Y. Howard on January 17, 1963 in the District of Zorzor, Lofa County, Jewel’s father hailed from the Lorma ethnic group; while her mother hailed from Bong County. By reasons of her Grandfather who was of the bloodline of the late King Kerkula Giddings, Jewel is of a royal linkage and is a devout Christian of the Baptist Denomination. She is a former First Lady of the Republic of Liberia married to the 22nd President of Liberia, His Excellency Charles G. Taylor and is mother to four children and two grandchildren. Jewel Howard-Taylor is Senior Senator of the Republic of Liberia representing Bong County.
The Bong Senior Senator is a graduate of the College of West Africa, one of Liberia’s prestigious secondary schools. At an early age, she presented a personage for leadership and sensitivity to issues above her peers. This was soon to be realized as she grew up and began exemplifying leadership traits. With studiousness and commitment to a brilliant future, she enrolled at the University of Liberia and attained a Bachelor’s degree in Economics in 1984. Understanding the economic and intellectual challenges of the age, she took advantage of available opportunity to travel to the USA where she studied Banking from the American institute in New Jersey bagging another Bachelor’s degree with Honors in 1991. In 1992, she obtained a Masters degree in professional banking with Honors.
Between 1996 and 1997, Jewel Howard served the Republic in two challenging and specialized areas of Government. She was appointed President of the Agriculture Cooperative Bank in 1996 and as Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Liberia which is now the Central Bank of Liberia in 1997. For Jewel, it was an opportunity to apply what she had learned. Due to greater state responsibility imposed on her as Liberia’s 21st First Lady in 1997, she was compelled to leave the banking sector for state responsibilities.
In 2003, Mrs. Jewel Howard-Taylor returned to private life but remained very active as a stateswoman. In 2005, she contested for the seat of Senator and won the highest votes in the County’s senatorial race. She became Senior Senator for Bong County. Senator Taylor has been, since then, an outstanding voice in the Senate and the Republic. She has and continues to have great impact on her constituents and the general public by her objective representation and positive contributions to national issues and discussions.
In her quest for greater output, she enrolled at the Cuttington University for yet another Masters degree; this time in Business Administration with concentration in Finance. She graduated Cum Laude in 2007. She is referred to as a Senator with an unquenching quest for education with two masters and two bachelors. She has recently acquired a Bachelor degree in Law graduating Magnum Cum Laude thus making it three bachelors. She has put in place plans to pursue a degree course in International Relations.
In the 52nd Legislature, she served in many capacities; but currently serves as member of the Joint Legislative Modernization Committee and Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Autonomous Commissions and Agencies dealing with key government institutes like the National Elections Commission, Governance Reform Commission; and Public Procurement Commission amongst other. She also serves as member of the committees on Gender and Development, Health, Social Welfare including women and Children; judiciary, Claims and Petition; Education and Public Administration and a ranking member of the Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget in the 53rd Legislature.
Senator Taylor is an advocator of many national programs which include but not limited to motivation of women’s rights and children welfare; educational and youth empowerment as well as advocator for HIV/AIDS programs and humanitarian services among others. Her strongest voice is on the rule of law, peace building, reconciliation and unity. Her advocacies and active involvement in transforming lives and national politics, especially her commitment to education, have earned her a seat and voice in many organizations such as:
(a) Vice President, Board of Trustees, University of Liberia; (b) Member of the following organizations: Liberian Red Cross, Rural Women Association of Liberia, Greater Monrovia Lions Club, Order of Eastern Star, Republic of Liberia, Board of Directors/Federation of Liberian Youths, Bong County Women Association and YMCA.
Politically, Senator Taylor has been actively involved in party politics. As a skilled organizer and stabilizer, she helped to resuscitate the NPP and was elected at its democratic convention as Standard Bearer to contest the Presidency. However her skills enabled her to craft collaboration between the NPP and CDC. The result of that collaboration enabled the NPP to increase its relevance in Liberian politics especially its numerical strength in the Liberian Senate.
The Bong Senator has received many awards to include, distinctions, nominations, and recognition from local, national, and international organizations. Notable amongst them are: Excellence Award in Recognition of her Advocacy for the Rights of Women from the African Women in Leadership Organization on June 15, 2012; Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Presidential Recognition Award for Humanitarian Services and contribution to Youth Development in Liberia from the (AAW Peace) African & American Women in 2011 and African Woman of Influence and Leadership as the 2009 African Woman of Distinction; National Service Award for Excellence in 2011, Certificate of Distinction as Outstanding Committee Chairman on Autonomous Commission and Agencies, Liberian Senate-2011, James P. Grant Hall of Fame Award, Washington D.C. for Extraordinary Community Service-2001, Knight Great Dame, Order of the Most Venerable Order of the Pioneers (One of the Nation’s Highest Award), African Woman of Distinction 2009 and UMOJA Civic Award for Outstanding Community Service.
Others are: University of Liberia-member Honors Society; Charles Niebling Award for the Highest Academic Achievement-1991-1992, Liberia’s Goodwill Ambassador on HIV/AIDS and the Most Distinguished Female Philanthropist Award and Venerable Chief – a Chieftaincy title conferred on her by Traditional Chiefs, Elders and Leaders of Bong County. Senator Taylor is a grass rooter and believer in multi-party democracy, freedom of expression, and rule of law.
The adorable Senator/Politician loves children and strives for women, children and youth empowerment. She is indeed a promising leader and potent voice in the politics of the nation. With so much respect, she cuts across political, social and ethnic lines. Senator Taylor remains a strong voice for change and progress in our Nation; and is considered one of those who could become a National leader one day. She has begun to attract the attention of News Week, USA, one of the world’s most powerful magazine which featured her in its June 4-11 edition 2012 as the Nations second most powerful woman.
From Senator of Bong County, where does she go after her term? Would she win her midterm elections? The Senator is confident of the support of Bong Citizens. As an adorer of her people, she is always there with them and is actively involved in community development in all parts of Bong. Many citizens continue to pray that the Security Council would lift the travelling ban on Senator Taylor so that her full potentials to help her people and nation would be explored.
On the issue of the Presidency 2017, is expected to be a tough battle as many giants are expected to join the race. It is expected that she might become one of those giants but continues to remain tight lipped about future presidential ambitions. Despite all, she is one that cherished the presidency of Sirleaf because she believes the President is the corridor that opened the eyes of Liberians and the international community that women too can lead Liberia.