Ahead of 2023 elections
By Lincoln G. Peters
Elections-related violence against women in politics, activism and other sectors of Liberian society are direct death threats rather than scare tactics says a report released here by a women-led organization, ahead of next year’s elections.
The Angie Brooks International Center (ABIC) released the report on Thursday, August 25, 2022, says violence against women in politics goes beyond scare tactics, amounting to death threats.
The ABIC for women’s empowerment, leadership development, international peace and security through its Women Situation Room (WSR) released a comprehensive report on peace, security and election in Liberia.
The report comes ahead of the 2023 presidential and legislative elections.
It highlights an unsafe environment for women engaged in political activities, insecurity, influx of narcotic drugs, and abuse of tradition, among others.
“Electoral violence against women is a death threat, not a scare tactics,” the ABIC report notes.
“We have witnessed this from the bloody altercation with machetes, stones and other weapons against the representative candidate Cornelia Kruah-Tokpa to the putting of gas around the house of representative candidate Telia Urey … to burn her alive,” the report detailed.
It continues that the hunting of then Candidate Botoe Kanneh, now Senator of Gbarpolu county with guns like a deer in the forest was also witnessed, adding that the perpetration of these acts of violence were intended to have them killed.
The report is the result of an 18-month project implemented by ABIC in partnership with ZOA-Liberia with funding from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, covering 20 pilot communities in Bong and Montserrado counties.
The mandate of the project was strategic interventions to enhance women’s capacity and agency within political, civic and mediation spaces.
It followed the December 2020 mid-term senatorial elections and the constitutional referendum, and at the same time working towards the 2023 presidential and legislative elections.
The initiative is a flagship program of the WSR under the project titled “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.
Reading the report at a local hotel in Monrovia Thursday, ABIC Establishment Coordinator Cllr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh said they commenced the project with one goal in mind to put the interest of peace in the 20 communities above all else.
She notes that this mantra ensured the project gained the requisite local support of both leaders and ordinary residents because the issues it brought to bear were and are still timely.
“ABIC trained 400 women and youth trainers in mediation, conflict resolution and negotiation,” she adds.
Cllr. Chesson-Wureh explains that ABIC convened 10 women-led mediation dialogues under the broad themes of electoral violence, monetization of elections, abuse and politicization of traditional norms and values.
Additionally, she says the themes also included polarization of the media, understanding of the democratic ideology of election, and abuse of narcotics as a national emergency issue.
“We also work with hundreds of community-based interventions through peer-to-peer peace engagement and the novel WSR owned visible seats at the session.”
Based on the fragility of the safety and security issues, the eminent women of the WSR are registering their strong and unqualified opposition to election violence, and insecurity in the country.
“Women participate in elections as aspirants, candidates, voters, security officers, election commission officers, political party supporters, polling center agents, media personnel and floating voters,” she says.
Cllr. Chesson-Wureh: “These different levels of political participation come with different levels of violence targeted at women in elections ranging from gender and sexual – based violence, verbal abuse physical violence, to emotional and psychological abuse.’’
She observes that in this age of the internet and social media, there are online harassment, fake news and misinformation while stressing that when the political atmosphere continues to give rise to unfavorable conditions for women to take part in elections, it’s simply an affront to their constitutional right to freedom of association in a manner that grossly undermines the core of Liberia’s democracy.