United Nations sister agencies, UNDP and UN Women in collaboration with the government of Liberia officially launched a USD2M project titled ‘Promoting Inclusive Political Participation and Elimination of Violence against Women in Politics” by the Peace Building Fund (PBF) on February 10, 2022.
The project was launched to promote women political participation and eliminate violence against women in elections in Liberia. Stakeholders from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP), Civil Society Organizations, the National Elections Commission (NEC), Peace Building Fund, the Irish Embassy and the UN System among others, attended the launch event.
Women’s participation in politics and electoral processes in Liberia is essential to ensuring that all voices are heard and that all Liberians are represented in governance structures.
Launching the project, Deputy Finance and Development Planning Minister, Hon. Tanneh Brunson, said the initiative is critical to the mandate of the government of Liberia to support the operationalization of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security second action plan that prioritizes women in politics.
“Liberia will be going to elections in 2023 where 15 Senate and 73 House of Representatives’ seats will be up for the race. Out of the 73 seats, only nine women incumbent are up for re-elections,” stressed Hon. Brunson.
In Liberia, women constitute 49 percent of the population, according to the 2008 Census. Women occupy only two of the 30 seats at 6.7 percent in the Liberian Senate.
Hon. Brunson cited poor perception of women leadership, lack of access to resources, violence against women in elections and politics, social and cultural norms, and unenforceable legal frameworks as some of the barriers that have fragmented the role of women in politics.
Speaking on behalf of the United Nations in Liberia, UN Resident Coordinator, Niels Scott encouraged the government to promote gender empowerment and participation in accordance with SDG5, and SDG16 to sustain the peace.
Mr. Scott noted that one of the best ways to a successful democracy is to encourage equal and inclusive political participation, stressing that the United Nations is very clear about its “2030” Agenda.
“Political exclusion must stop if we have to consider the gains that Liberia has made in its democracy. If this is not done, free and fair elections would only sound good in the headlines of newspapers’ articles but the reality is not the case,” stressed Mr. Scott.
In the 2020 Special Senatorial Elections, only 17.5 percent of nominated candidates were women, falling far short of the commitments made by political parties. Only one party fulfilled the voluntary quota calling for 30 percent of a party’s candidate to be women.
The regional average of women in parliament in sub-Saharan Africa is 25 percent, but women currently occupy just 11 of the 103 seats in the Liberian Legislature (less than 11 percent). At the same time, only 5 percent of local government officials are women.
Women Political Participation and Leadership Specialist, Nyasha Chidau said that the project would enforce coordination, peace building, governance and elections processes among stakeholders with emphasis on greater participation of women and a focus on the prevention of and response to violence against women in elections and politics.
By building on existing programmes and partnerships, the project will create synergies with other development partners working in the same areas.