Liberian women from diverse backgrounds put up a very strong presence at the Gbarnga Constitution Review Conference, which reportedly ended Thursday.
The essence of such significant presence is to push for their rights and that of the children of Liberia.
A United Nations Report of 2013 indicates that most women and girls live in extreme poverty, many of whom also suffer as a result of HIV/AIDS, illiteracy, poor health care system, as well as unemployment, among other ills. Consequently, they are under developed, under represented and exposed to different kinds of risks- this is evident by the high rate of teenage pregnancy, street children, teenage prostitution, drug abuse, as well as dysfunctional families, among others.
Like other countries of the African continent, Liberia is just no exception to these discouraging and negative attributes of the lives women and children.
Perhaps, it is against this backdrop that Liberian women remained uncompromising in ensuring that the rights of women and children are protected by the ‘amended Constitution of Liberia’ this time around.
Among the many issues raised in a statement presented on Wednesday, April 1, 2015 for consideration during conference, including marriage and rights, was a 50% share of national governance.
“It is the responsibility of the political parties to ensure the fulfilment of this provision; the Legislature should enact appropriate laws for the implementation of this law,” the women’s statement read.
While many well-meaning may support the issues of women as raised in Gbarnga, the exclusive right of a 50% share of the country’s governance process may just be very worrisome.
Even though some consider women as the weaker vessel in human existence, especially in Africa, modernity may just not account for such. Instead, the issue of their education interplay very well in their growth and development so as to compete with their male counterparts at all levels of society.
Evident of the foregoing is current Liberian Head of State Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The likes Bong County Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor, Cllr. Pearl Brown-Bull, Atty, Medina Sheperd-Wesseh, as well as Ms. Eva Flomo, among others are testimonies to this argument.
It is even very unfair to President Sirleaf and her administration for the women groups to allow such “non-issue” to take central stage, when- in fact the current Liberian Government has and continue to provide the environment and opportunity for girls’ education and women’s empowerment; we think it’s unfair to Ellen!
We are of the fervent belief that girls’ education and growth, when made compulsory by the Constitution of Liberia, could further enhance women’s development and preparedness to compete with the men at all levels- that MUST be the emphasis; but as the women in Gbarnga groups are demanding, it may just be practically impossible to have 50% share of the governance process on such “silver platter”.
Even if it goes through, many Liberians, including some of the very women, may vote against it come any referendum- sincerely speaking!
Let us not be misconstrued or misunderstood as opposing the women’s demand; it’s just a matter of being very realistic in practical terms. It may just not work!
We believe the women’s demand for 50% share of the governance of Liberia should be redirected to girls’ education, growth and development to attract gender equity in its true meaning.