Women and Young People in Totota, Bong County have expressed the need for a more robust awareness to prevent violence against women in Elections.
They believe that it’s a cardinal approach to promoting women’s political participation and leadership.
According to a press release, the women made the call recently during a one-day dialogue at the Lutheran Compound in Totota.
The dialogue was organized by Liberian women’s rights and feminist activist Facia Harris.
The dialogue was of several organized under the IVLP Impact Award 2023 Young Women Empowerment, Protection and Participation in Elections Project.
Its is to contribute to effective public awareness of the causes and prevention of violence against women in elections and promoting women’s political participation, leadership, and representation, especially in Liberia’s 2023 presidential and legislative elections.
The dialogue also discussed the protocol between the National Elections Commission (NEC) and registered political parties to address violence against women in elections and politics in Liberia (VAWiE/P).
Its purpose of ensuring all stakeholders are informed and contributing to preventing violence against women in elections with a call for accountability and an end to impunity.
The convener of the one-day dialogue, Facia Harris presented on the topic: Understanding the causes, forms, and prevention of violence against women in elections.
She explained to the participants that women should be allowed to fully participate in the election activities without feeling threatened and or attacked.
She stated that it is the responsibility of the community to denounce all forms of violence against women and girls, even in elections.
Atty. Harris said under the law, no woman should be insulted for supporting a particular candidate of her choice or for running for any public office.
Instead, she said everyone should have the free will to choose and to support whoever they want to support as enshrined in Article 5 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
Participants in response said they have a collective sense of the prevalent rate of violence against women in their district and community, and how it affects the ability of women to equally participate in the national and local community elections.
The women said they continue to come under a series of verbal and physiological violence by male counterparts and sometimes women who support male candidates.
The conversation also stressed the growing wave of cyberbullying of women candidates and calls for measures or interventions to ensure the safety of women participating in elections either as candidates, partisans of political parties, and or individual candidates.
At the end of the dialogue, the participants recommended that there should be equal women and men in government so all issues can be addressed, especially women-related issues. They stated that “in that way, we will have a balanced society.
Speaking on the issue of civic and voter education, it was the opinion of the group of women, men, and young people, that more was needed to help prepare the voters to participate in the vote processing.
They thanked the organizers of the dialogue for bringing such important awareness to their community, noting that the information gathered makes them more informed and prepared to help counter acts of violence against women in elections and promote women’s leadership.
The first-time voters attending the dialogue said they felt more connected, confident, and relevant to the election process, following the open and safe conversations held and information provided by the facilitators.
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is providing the funding for the Young Women Empowerment, Protection and Participation in Elections Project. Meridian International Center serves as the implementing partner.
The group continues to create awareness on the prevention of violence against women in elections and creating public, peer to peer awareness on women political participation and voters’ education to women and young people.–Press release