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Women seek greater participation in politics

As Liberians gear up for the 2023 General and Presidential Elections, the Women NGOs Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL) has ended an engagement with women in Gbarpolu County, calling for more women’s participation in politics.

The engagement was held under the auspices of UN Women’s Supporting Community Engagement on Women’s Political Participation project.

The Project/LESP with funds from Irish Aid, Swedish International Development Agency, and UNDP is working with six Civil Society Organizations and 12 UN Women’s established Women Peace Huts in Grand Bassa, Grand Gedeh, and Gbarpolu counties, respectively, including one CSO in Sinoe County to strengthen capacity of these targeted groups on Transformative Leadership and Peacebuilding and dialogue sessions to promote women’s participation in politics at grassroots level.

The aim of the engagements is to awaken women’s momentum in communities to get involved in decision-making processes, building strategic partnerships, alliances, and seeking commitments from relevant stakeholders and actors to increase women’s political participation.

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Working with local government and traditional leaders in these counties is bearing fruits, as local leaders have pledged to involve women in decision-making processes at all levels in these counties.

However, traditional barriers and lack of funding support amongst others were highlighted during the engagements as key challenges that hinder women’s political participation.

One participant in Gbarpolu County, Mr. Marvin Sirleaf, Town Chief of Sappimah Town, in Bundi Clan, Bopolu District, pledged “to support our women get involved in politics.”

For his part, the Fiscal Affairs of the County, Mr. Anthony Yorkor, pledged to work closely with women-led CSOs and Women Peace Committees, explaining that the ruling CDC that he hails from has recognized the importance of women’s inclusion in politics and amended its framework document to have not less than 40 percent women in leadership.

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Mr. Yorkor cautioned women in various political parties, including CDC to push for key leadership positions in their respective parties rather than only serving on “women wings.” He said women can also serve as clan and paramount chiefs, and commissioners, among others.

The women in all of the sessions in the counties have expressed interest in contesting for leadership positions.

“Thanks to the UN Women for sending WONGOSOL to awaken us; I am going to be the next General Town Chief for Gbama District”, said Janet Richardson.

“I will not be silent anymore on issues that affect the community”, another woman, Garmai Kokulo, added.

Madam Darbah Marshall called on women of Gbama District to hold together. She said if women are united, they won’t strive for leadership positions.

The women called on the Liberian Legislature to amend the new election law with specific emphasis on Section 4.5, adding that if this is done sooner, it will provide the opportunity for more women to contest in the 2023 elections.

They also want government through the legislature to strengthen the drug law, expressing apprehension that what could happen during the 2023 elections with the huge intake of illegal substances by young people, mainly At-risk youths across the country that pose serious security threats.

“We need everyone on board, in order for our mama Liberia to be developed; from the local and national levels, everyone has a saying; women, men, young people and other minority groups should be given the space to participate in Liberia’s governance processes”, says WONGOSOL Executive Director, Esther Davis-Yango.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/wongosol-preaches-empowerment-for-liberian-women/ Editing by Jonathan Browne

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